Chat all things Blues with Tom Timmermann at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Chat all things Blues with Tom Timmermann at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Get your questions ready and join in at 1 p.m. Wednesday for our weekly Blues chat.

    Hey, Tom! What's for lunch? Watching Klim Kostin and Avangard a period away from lifting the Gagarin Cup - do you see a role for him on the Blues come playoff time?
    Having just finished my chicken quesadilla, I'm ready to go.
    I don't know how easily you plug a guy who hasn't played with the team all season and has been playing on a different sized ice surface into the lineup. Plus, someone's got to come out and the Blues are already scratching forwards who have played a lot this season. It would be slightly easier, I suppose, if he was able to get back in time for a regular season game, because it would be a lot simpler to test him out there than jumping in in the playoffs. But that will be tough, depending on when the series ends -- possibly during this chat -- how quickly he can get back and how short the quarantine is. (I would guess it would be shorter if he flew back on a private plane.) So they can certainly find a place for him, but there are a lot of complications and a lot of ifs for a guy who will play on the third line at best this season. 
    What have you seen out of Kyle Clifford's play recently? Is he injured or just a healthy scratch? Isn't he a Berube type player and if only playing limited minutes on the 4th line are you surprised he's not in lineup?
    Well, I haven't seen a whole lot because even when he's played, he hasn't played a whole lot. His last game before he started getting scratched -- and he is a healthy scratch -- he played 5:38. He's a banger and Berube has been going with three lines a lot lately, and Clifford just doesn't fit in with that. Berube said yesterday, "It's not his play. It's just one of those things .. .but he's an important guy on our team and we'll need him." Still, I wouldn't expect to see a whole lot of him the rest of the way. I'm not surprised by this at all. The Blues have an abundance of forwards and the easiest and most obvious guy to take out if you're trying to squeeze other guys in is the guy you're playing the least.
    How long do you think Berube will go w the 11-7 lineup? Will he do it until the team loses as coaches don't like to mess w success?
    Looks like it could be at least one more game. He said today that if Parayko is in the lineup tonight, which will be a game-time decision, he'll go 11-7 to give the team some cover in case Parayko (or someone else) can't go the full game. To me, it seems that if that seventh defenseman is playing only five or six minutes, like Santini did on Monday, I'd just as soon have another forward around. But right now, with a lot of the defense hurting, it seems coverage, as well as superstition, is a factor in this.
    Tom, love your incisive writing and follow you. Loved the Barbashev, Thomas, Kyrou line Sat, but can they play enough defense in the playoffs? The other three lines look pretty solid. Putting Shenn (and Perron) with O'Reilly was a great idea to get them going. Your opinions, please.
    Thanks.
    Barbashev can play defense, that's not a problem, and Thomas and Kyrou have to up their game there. Thomas doesn't usually get a lot of defensive zone starts, in part because he's not that good on faceoffs, and they'll try to keep them away from the other team's top lines. The lines right now are working, though the Bozak line wasn't as sharp defensively the last two games with Colorado. Right now, proximity to Ryan O'Reilly is a good place to be because he's taking the team on his back. 
  • how is it that the Blues PK struggles so much with the Colorado PP. They do the same play every time and set up MacKinnon and Rantanen for one-timers
    No one in the league seems to have figured out about Ovechkin either and he's been standing in the exact same place for years. Teams design plays to get guys open, and if you have one guy just sitting on the other guy, you're turning it into a four on three and giving everyone else even more space. But certainly you have to be aware of where they're trying to get the puck and plan accordingly.
    Hi Tom. Doug Armstrong has a history with Buffalo and they are still in need of more rebuilding. What would it take to pry Eichel off that team? Husso, Kyrou and Dunn/Walman? He would be worth it. Your thoughts?
    His history is with a previous regime, so that's not going to do any good. I think Buffalo would feel that's nowhere near enough return. And if I'm Buffalo, I'm not trading Eichel. But that's just me.
    I see TV ratings claiming the blues are doing just fine. But it looks like the ratings are based on % of available households. Is that different than total households? I'm curious to see if total viewership has decreased due to all the services not having Bally Sports MW.
    I'd have to check with Dan Caesar on the ins and outs of ratings, but my recollection is that they'd be working off of available households, namely those that have cable of some kind. The rating is the percentage of available households watching while the share is the percentage of TVs turned on at the moment. I'll ask Dan what he knows.
    I've recently watched a replay of the Blues 4 wins over Boston to win the cup. Sanford played great every game after being inserted in game 3. Strong on the puck and tenacious on the fore check. He played with 90 and 57 and they dominated. He has the size every team needs at forward to go deep in the playoffs and has proven he has enough skill to play on the top 6. What does Chief need to do to get him back to his cup run production?
    Sanford has admitted often that it's all a mind game with him, and when he can keep his focus high is when he does best. And that's a factor of his confidence. When he is scoring and producing, he's thinking about the game and then he produces some more. So it becomes a chicken and egg thing. They've got to get him to be focused to score and they've got to get him scoring to be focused. There's a chance he could be back in the lineup tonight. Usually once he gets going, he's fine, and the periods of good play now last longer than they used to. He could be well served by a stretch on an energy line where he gets to bang and feel good about that part of his game and playing the defensive side and then transitioning back into a more offensive role. Though if they're going to keep Bozak centering Schwartz and Tarasenko, he's not going to get on a top two line anyway.
  • Will Binnington play every game (even the back to back) until the Blues clinch the 4th spot? What have you seen in his play that has elevated his performance?
    I would expect you'll see Husso in the second half of back to backs and that's it, so three of the final 10 games. I don't see Binnington playing both sides unless he has a game with a very low workload. So if he gets a 20-shot game, then they can bring him back. Who can explain goalies? He's back to making big saves when needed and I think he's cut down on soft goals he'd like to have back. Whether that's focus or fundamentals or just how life works, I don't know.
    Nothing would make me happier than to be completely wrong about this, but it seems to me the Blues should approach the upcoming expansion draft by leaving both Tarasenko and Krug unprotected. If Tarasenko is taken, skip resigning Schwartz, move Schenn onto the line with O'Reilly and Perron, and using the Steen/Tank/Schwartz money to find the perfect power forward to join Thomas and Kyrou (one of the Tkachuks, perhaps?).Build a third line around a reduced-price Bozak, and we shift toward the next window. If Krug is taken, re-sign Tank and Schwartz, and take the Steen/Krug/Bozak money for a bigger, rougher Dman, and use Dunn and Sanford to trade for whatever piece we need to make our top three lines superb, keeping this window open awhile.

    What say you, good sir?
    A lot to digest here. I can see a scenario where Tarasenko is left unprotected because of his situation as he comes back from the injuries, but that seems like quite an asset to give away for nothing, though if they tried to trade him now, they'd be selling low anyway and not getting a great return. Also, if you leave him unprotected and he doesn't get taken, well, that probably doesn't play well. I really don't see a scenario where they don't protect Krug. He's adjusting to a new team in tough circumstances. If you're already protecting Faulk and Parayko, then you're exposing Krug to keep Dunn? That would seem to go against what we've seen so far. 
    I also don't see a world where either of the Tkachuks are being moved any time soon.
    There is the potential for significant moves this offseason, moreso than we may have thought earlier, and much may depend on how this season plays out. But I would expect the Blues to protect their most valuable assets in the expansion draft. The question may be how they define that.  
    Is Jake Walman a "flash in the pan?" Other young D's have come up and played well for stretches and then disappeared off the radar over the years? Going forward when everyone is healthy where can he fit in this year and next? Can he be a top 4? Play PP? What's his ceiling and how did he jump ahead of others in the system?
    At one point, he was ahead of others in the system, then he didn't do in the AHL and other jumped ahead of him. He turned his game around last season at San Antonio and jumped up the list. I think he can be a second pairing defenseman, and in the Parayko-less world, Berube used him there with Krug. Don't know if he'll be a shutdown guy, but his ability to transition the puck quickly and get it out of trouble and up the ice will serve him well. He still has to learn to be a bit more careful with the puck, but he's learning. He's the quickest skater in the back. If the Blues have a healthy D next season, he'll likely end up on the third pairing because Faulk, Krug, Scandella and Parayko will take the top four spots. The Blues have put him out there on the PK a lot, and even on some five-on-threes, so they believe in what he can do.
    Foolwing up on your response: Part of my thinking with exposing Krug is feeling like some fans, that our D really hasn't played like a Blues D this year. So actually, I'd be exposing Krug to protect Scandella, who many nights has looked to be our best defensive Dman. He's not a star, but he could be a strong building block for a solid Kraken D, and his contract seems reasonable, making him a good selection.
  • Was just looking at some numbers over at hockeyviz.com, and the Blues defense is 3% below the league average with Scandella on the ice, 11% below when he's not on the ice. The Blues are 1% below with Krug on the ice, 13% below without him. But the Blues are whoppingly better offensively with Krug on the ice. Seems you get more from Krug overall than you get from Scandella, plus he's a year younger. I'm sure the Kraken would be delighted to have Krug.
  • Curious why the Blues did not attempt to sign Chara in the off-season? Especially since they knew that they were losing a lot of size. I know at this point of his career he lumbers down the ice, but like they say you can't teach height. The Caps seem to think he's good enough to play.
    Among other reasons, I'd bet Chara didn't want to move to the West, where the travel is a lot worse. Chara pretty much picked his spot. But I think the Blues were looking at a long-term play rather than a short one, to solve a problem rather than punt for a season. Obviously, Hoffman is a short-term deal, but I think that's a very different situation.
    Tom, this is not directed at Blues defensemen, but defensemen in general with all teams I've noticed. They stand behind the net with the puck and try to make flat footed passes up the ice, many of which are picked off. What ever happened to "skate the puck out"? Is this just laziness?
    I was waiting for Justin Faulk to try to run out the clock standing behind the net with the puck on Monday, but he only took about 15 seconds or so off it. Usually by that point, while players wait for everyone to get set after a line change, an opposing player has come up to confront you, so starting from a dead stop may put the puck carrying player at a disadvantage and it's easier to find a teammate who has been able to build up some speed or who has some more room to work with. But you still have to make that play properly.
    Do you think Husso has shown enough to be penciled in as backup next season?
  • At this point, yes, especially since I don't think backup goalie is a position where the Blues are going to want to invest a lot of money with the flat cap. Husso has gotten into his game a bit better though he obviously still has to come out sharper. Some hiccups were expected this season as Husso got his start in the NHL.
    Avangard Omsk and Klim Kostin are KHL champions, beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 in Game 6 of the Gagarin Cup finals. Now we'll see how soon he can get here. The Blues have a visa waiting for him.
    Tom, it was my understanding the Blues "kicked the tires" on Chara but he definitely made it clear he wanted to play in the East. Less travel and I believe his family is still in Boston. I would have loved to have had him myself but that wasn't an option. Is that your understanding?
    How seriously they kicked the tires, I don't know, but they certainly checked in on him. But Chara was almost guaranteed to stay with a team in the Northeast for travel purposes. Krug talked earlier this season about how much harder travel is in the West than it is in the East because of the travel. A lot more time spent on planes.
    I know that David Backes hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time with the Ducks this season, but I just don’t see how they can keep him out of the lineup next week against the Blues. With him announcing his probable retirement they have to give him a chance to say goodbye to the (limited) fans at Enterprise right??
    Especially with the fact that Anaheim will officially be out of the race by then, it would make sense to have his name announced more than just in a listing of the scratches. Put him in the starting lineup the first night and let him get a big ovation.
    Mr. Timmermann,
    This is more of a comment than a question, but I think if the Blues get in the playoffs, they have the potential to go on a nice run. The reason I think so is because to get in, they're going to have to beat the teams they'll be facing in the playoffs. If they can do it now, why not in the playoffs too? They took care of Colorado the past two (albeit an attenuated Colorado team currently using perhaps the worst goaltending duo in the division, but a win's a win). Now they have a whole bunch against the Wild and a couple with VGK. Maybe the Blues have some mojo now and are going to start playing like they should have been all season.
    This was Armstrong's hope, that just like the 2019 team struggled and then figured it out late in the season, this team could do it too. I think they have a much higher hill to climb this time. By the end of 2019, they'd been playing well for a while and were pretty much even with the other teams in the division. This time, they are finding their game with less than a month to go and some of these other teams in the division are really, really good. But it's postseason hockey. Anything can happen. Your goalie gets hot and all of a sudden all sorts of things are possible. And there's not going to be an easy out in the division. Beat Colorado in the first round and you get Vegas or Minnesota in the second. Not possible to have an upset to make the path easier.
    One other thing on Backes -- I don't think he rises to the level of a player getting his number retired but I think the Blues should bring him back for a night after he retires. He was a good player here for a long time and he was key in making the Blues good again. They were awful when he was called up back in 2006.
  • He won't get his number retired, but he was part of the team's identity changing into a winning, competitive club.
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