Join Blues beat writer Jim Thomas for his live chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Join Blues beat writer Jim Thomas for his live chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday

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

    Hello again everybody. Good to be back again this week. Let's get at it. . . .
    Hi Jim,
    Thanks for doing this. Last night’s game was playoff style hockey, so the Blues better get used to tight checking and no space for cute passing. In particular, Foligno and Deslauriers and Dumba will run at Kyrou and Thomas, especially in the first few games. My question is about home-ice advantage. Both teams have great home records. Perhaps it is better for the Blues to start on the road so that Minnesota feels the pressure to perform in front its home crowd in Games 1and 2. Those early games can set the tone for the series, and it seems to me the Blues have a better chance of disrupting a Wild team that is pressing to put on a show at home. I never thought home ice was that big a deal in Game 7 (i.e. 2019 Stanley Cup Finals). Your thoughts?
    The Blues are saying all the right things when it comes to home ice. But I think if you put the truth serum in them, they'd say it really doesn't matter. The home ice only comes into play if there's a Game 7. The Blues opened in Winnipeg in 2019 and won that series in sxi games, winning the first two on the road, and then losing the next two in St. Louis. I'm sure the remainnig Cup veterans remember that. After being so-so on the road for much of this year, the Blues have been strong lately. The Nashville game pushed their road point streak to seven games (6-0-1).
    Saying all that, the Xcel Energy Center is a tough building on visitors. The Wild are even slightly better there (27-7-2) than the Blues are at Enterprise (26-9-5). And the BLues have yet to play at Xcel this season, with their only road game against the Wild coming outdoors in the Winter Classic.
    This has been one of the most enjoyable season watching Blues hockey that I can remember. Can the magic continue? Will the team roll into post season w a super hot goalie which is by far the #1 way teams make cup runs? The overall talent is there and right now has everyone healthy. Throw in a little puck luck and maybe, just maybe we can relish in another parade. Time to go back and watch the 8-9 minute highlights of those 16 games in 2019. What great memories! Go and to listen to that short Berube Boston 7th pre-game locker room speech. Wouldn't it be awesome to experience it all over again? GO BLUES
    It has been an entertaining and unpredictable season to be sure. The question to me is can the Blues continue their offensive prowess into the postseason. Conventional wisdom says the defense will tighten up and the scoring will decrease in the playoffs. But this has been a high-scoring season around the league - the hiighest scoring season in a quarter of a century. So maybe some of that will carry over into the playoffs.
    Binnington to Buffalo for a 2nd round draft pick… or Tarasenko & Binnington for Thompson and a 3rd round draft pick? The Sabers are over $15M below cap and could easily absorb both players and still have room for additional moves, plus it will make them a contender quicker. Do either of these trades merit consideration if your Doug Armstrong and Kevyn Adams?
    CapFriendly has the Sabres with tons of cap space for next season - $40 million - with obviously some players to sign to fill a full organizational roster. Not sure about Binnington for just a second-round pick - yes, he's struggled for much of this year but he did wn a Cup. But the Sabres would be picking up a $6 million a year contract, so you've at least given me (and I presume Doug Armstrong) food for thought. As for your other trade proposal, I can't see why the Sabres would be interested in trading Thompson now that he's had a true breakout season and is just 24 years old. I'd think you'd want to build around players like that.
    Keep in mind, too, Tarasenko has a full no-trade clause as does Binnington this offseason.
    Jim, I don’t see Husso wearing the Blue note next year even if he stands on his head and we win the cup. Armstrong has been very judicious with his contracts for the most part but I can’t see the Blues paying two goalies over $9m, or more, the next several years. Husso is not a backup goalie and I’m sure if he stays he’ll want reassurance that he will be the #1 goalie, otherwise there are too many teams out there that will overpay to get him. Your thoughts?
  • I thnk one way Husso might stay is if Binnington is traded. Otherwise, I would think Husso could indeed find a starting job elsewhere. But let's see how he does in the playoffs. If he struggles, the market might not be as big as expected. If he shines in the postseason, sutiors will be banging on his door. Loudly.
    I’m not sure why everyone is so enamored by Colton Parayko. Yes, he is a good defenseman, but he’s not worth of the $6.5m the Blues will be paying him starting next year. Lackadaisical plays, bad passes, not physical. You take a player like Nikita Zadorov who is two years younger, making a third of what Parayko is making, playing roughly the same number of minutes and who’ stats are almost identical. I’m just saying, for what you’re paying annually for Parayko you kind find equal value at a much lower cost.
    I'm not seeing the universal acclaim for Parayko that you are. At least among fans. The sense I get is that he's right up there with Marco Scandella for the Zach Sanford/Jay Bouwmeester award in terms of scorn from fans. (As for Bouwmeester, I'm talking about the 2017-18 season, and on into the early part of 2018-19, when he was coming off hip surgery.)
    As for Zadorov, if he's as good as you say he is, don't you think he'll get consideratbley more than his current $3.75 million this offseason as a UFA? I'll defer to Jeff Gordon and others as to whether he's a comparable player to Parayko.
    I know he's the Captain but considering Vladi's production, Thomas and Kyrou needing contracts and the chemistry of the Thomas line - is O'Reilly the odd man out at renewal time. Thomas and Buchy are becoming penalty killers. Is the question no longer - do you trade Vladi while he has some value or is it do you trade O'Reilly?
    Great question. I wish I had a great answer for you. Like Tarasenko, O'Reilly has one year left on his current contract and both are scheduled to make $7.5 million. This is why Armstrong makes the big bucks - to make decisions like that. Besides O'Relly and Tarasenko, Barbashev also is scheduled to be unrestricte after next season, with Kyrou and Thomas arbitration eligible restricted free agents. - which should bring hefty pay raisies. So it could very well be a case of Tarasenko or O'Reilly. I don't know which way I'd go at this point.
    Did you lose a games pay for your one game suspension last week?
    No. Someone we managed to publish.
    Thoughts on your 1.75 hours stuck in the Enterprise elevator? Are you taking the steps?
    Thanks for asking. It went by relatively quickly to tell you the truth. In terms of the sportswriters that were stuck, that was probably due to the fact that it was an afternoon game. Had it been an evening game and we were more pressed by deadlines, it miight have gotten ugly!
    I'm not taking the steps, but I did take an alternate elevator a couple of timies Tuesday.
  • Where does the credit go for revamping what was a miserable power play? Monte?

    Any insight as to why it has become so productive other than the obvious less predictable puck movement?
    For starters, the power play has been very good in recent years. The Blues were 10th on the power play in 2018-19 (21.1 percent), third in 2019-20 (24.3 %), and sxith last season (23.2 %). This year, they're currently second in the league at 26.3 percent, which would be a franchise record if it holds up. I'll add that power play numbers - like scoring in general - are up basially throughout the league this season.
    Jim Montgomery is running the penallty kill this year, not the power play.
    I think the team's forward depth has helped the power play. Especially when the top guys are healthy, it's hard to tell who's the first unit and who's the second unit. There's so much depth that Brandon Saad - a pretty accomplished goal scorer and power play guy - ocasionally finds himself as the odd man out. The 11th Man if you will on the power play.
    I also think the addition of Krug has helped kick the power play up a notch. He just seems to move the puck a little quicker.
    And I also think familiarity has helped. Players like O'Reilly, Perron, Schenn, Tarasenko - even Thomas - have played together for several years now.
    Who do you think the Avs don’t want to see in the first round, or do they care?

    Seems like the Preds have handled them pretty well.
    They way they've played, I think they're ready to take on all comers. I wasn't aware that the Predators had handled the Avs, but I'll take your word for it. I would think a defensive oriented team like Dallas might give them trouble. Kind of like an off-seed pitcher going against a fastball-hitting team.
    "Pardon me Jim? You chirpin' me that I'm slow?"

    Thanks for this, I still get a good laugh out of it when I go back and listen to it.
    I had no idea a tough Sasky Boy like Schenn had such sensitive feelings! After all, it was simply a question about Schen having underrated speed. I think a lot of his game is underrated.
    But no, it's all in good fun. This seems to be a loose team. It's certainly a fun team to cover.
    Hi Jim,
    Is it just me, or has Parayko's play been kind of sketchy lately? It seems that he is turning the puck over several times a period. He is beaten on the boards and is seen alone in front of the net on opponent goals several times lately. I hold my breath every time he has the puck in our zone. Am I wrong?
    It's fallen off a little lately, but he had been playing at a high level IMO since the all-star break until recently. There are ebbs and flows throughout the season in players' games. Men not machines as Tony La Russa used to say.
    How do you see the D pairings shaking out. Do they run a shutdown line with Parrayko and Scandella, or would Leddy on the Parrayko pairing be a more effective shutdown pair? Or do they mix/match puck movers and leave Scandella and Bort as a third pair?
  • Interesting question. I think Berube likes Scandella-Parayko as his shutdown pairing. And as long as they're playing well, that won't change. I wonder if eventually he won't go back to Krug-Faulk as a pairing - they've played together more than any Blues pair this season and played very well together. That would put Leddy with Bortuzzo. But for now, Berube seems to prefer Leddy-Faulk and Krug-Bortuzzo - at least since Krug's return from injury.
    But as you've probably noticed, there's been some mixing and matching during games, with at least some of it due to situations and matchups. I think we can all expect that to continue.
    Happy Wednesday Jim. Thanks for doing the chat.

    I for one want to be the road team versus the Wild. There will be a huge amount of pressure on the Wild to beat the Blues, especially at home since they haven't been able, and the Blues can use it to their advantage. Home teams always have more pressure to win anyway, the Wild will feel the weight of Minnesota on them in the series particularly on their own pond. This scheme worked in 2019 when the Blues were the roadies in all four series. What say you?
    How are you Barry? There is a lot of pressure on the Wild, especially since their cap situation going forward into next year becomes problematial (due to buyout money kicking in). But I think there's pressure on the Blues as well. After all, they have been knocked out of the first round two years in a row. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't think it's necessarily a big deal either way.
    I guess the hard thing to understand with Mikkola being cemented to the bench until an injury forces him into the lineup is the running question before the Leddy trade was if he was good enough to be a top 4 defensemen, and not a flat out statement that he wasn't good enough. So I was left confused. If he was possibly good enough to play top 4, how can he be such a deficiency now that he'll never play and won't be ready for action if he's needed later in the playoffs. Were we wrong and was he a lesser player then we believed?
    I dont think you or anybody was wrong. I think Armstrong really wanted another experienced D-man for the playoffs Plain and simple. (And Berube concurred.) Mikkola has made great strides this season, but his play tailed off just as the trade deadeline approached and with the team struggling. Timing has a lot to do with things sometmies.
    I’m not sure the blues beat the stars if they don’t have the home game in game seven of the second round in 2019. However stealing the first two in Winnipeg launched their 2019 championship season, and of course they won game seven in Boston. It seems more important to win those first two games in a seven game series than where you play those first two games. Is there some reason to believe the blues need those games at home or can they win those, especially in Minnesota, on the road?
    The Blues are 13-1-2 against Minnesota since Berube took over as head coach, so they've won plenty of games in the Twin Citiies. So I'm sure the Blues have plenty of confidene about facing the Wild - any time, any place - athough many of those games were close and it's clear the Blues have tons of respect for the Wild. Of course, as Berube has pointed out - those were regular-season games. The playoffs are another kind of beast.
    Is it customary for the Blues to make Captain O'Reilly answer questions after losses? Do you know if its his idea because he is the captain, Chief's call, or a mutual decision between player and management? I don't remember Petro doing it after every loss.
    O'Reilly has let it be known that he wants to speak after losses. He feels like it's part of his duty as captain. (Although he doesn't always speak after losses.)
  • Did you see the ESPN post game interview they had with Bruins defensemen McAvoy? Guy hid behind the bleachers during a congratulatory interview. I'm very shy, but I have to work with the public to make a living. There's things about all of our jobs we don't like, but they pay us to get over it. Giving fans insight creates interest in your sport that pays this man millions of dollars a year to play a game for a lucrative salary. I'm seeing it in sports where players are very aloof with the media. Teams don't give scoops to local best writers like they used to. Players don't sign autographs or take pictures like they used to. Listen to John Mozeliak from the Cardinals talk about the fans and fan expectations - you can picture the snotty look of disgust when he talks about the subject. Seems to me like today's players don't feel like they need the fans of their sports. Local tv ratings in all sports not NFL are in serious decline. I need my customers so I can make a living. Do you sense today's players feel the same way about their customers?
    One of the biggest changes in sports journalism since I've been in the business has been the decrease in access to players and coaches. That's across all sports. For instance, I'm shocked at how limited the access is in college sports these days. When I covered the Mizzou beat, all practices were open to accredited media. I'd frequently set up my own interviews if I needed to do a longer interview. A couple of examples, I can remember interviewing Byron Irvin and Derrick Chievous of Mizzou hoops back at their apartment. Or spending an hour talking with Andy Lock (Drew Locks' fatther) at the Tom Taylor building on a Monday night.bak when Andy was a Mizzou lineman.. Just me and him. It's just not like that anymore for the most part.
    The Internet has changed all that. It has resulted in more outlets being part of coverage, which is good. But has resulted in limitied access for the same reason. Team web sites try to control the message to a degree.
     - and in many instances they do great work but they're not really going to provide content about things that go wrong.
    Saying all that, I've found the Blues players to be extraordinarily accomodating to the public, be it at the rink or out and about. 
    If the Blues and Wild tie in points is the first tiebreaker number of team wins or the series record between the two teams?
    The first tiebreaker is number of regulation wins. In whiich the Blues hae a huge edge over the Wild, 41-34, in part because the Blues' overtime record is so bad!
    ROR's production seems off though he is obviously putting out the effort. Is COVID still lingering with him?

    We were at the Wild game on Saturday and for the first time ever we got to sit at ice level. What a different perspective that gives! I saw up close that Tory Krug has more starch in his game than shows on TV.
    I think it took O'Reilly a while to get going after coming back from COVID, but I think he's been beyond that for quiite some time. His production is down, but I think we mght be paying more attention to it because so many other players are enjoying career years. Yes he has a modest 17 goals, but he had only 12 goals in 2019-20.
    As for sitting at ice level, I couldn't agree more. Last season during the pandemic days of limited or no fans in the building, the media seating for LA Kings games at Staples Center was only about 15 rows up. It was amazing how fast the game looked that close to the action. And how small the rink seemed.
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