Join Blues beat writer Tom Timmermann for his live chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Join Blues beat writer Tom Timmermann 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.

    Greetings one and all and welcome to our Thanksgiving eve chat, with the Blues possibly seguing briskly from an eight-game losing streak to an eight-game winning streak. Jim is on the scene in Buffalo where the Blues had an optional morning skate, but Berube said all the sick or injured guys are available. Though he said that about Krug on Monday and that didn't happen. Bortuzzo has been activated off IR, Tucker has been sent back to Springfield. And with that, let's get to the chat.
    Do you see Bortuzzo getting back into the lineup. Rosen and Mikkola have played well.
    Yes, though Jim says from Buffalo that it looks like Bortuzzo won't be in today. (We're in one of those periods where until the Blues lose, the lineup isn't really going to change much.) But Rosen has played well and we may be seeing the Blues go back to the world where Bortuzzo is a healthy scratch more often or he and Rosen alternate. Rosen has played very well and he's now played a significant amount of minutes that the Blues can have a good degree of confidence in him, on both sides of the puck. Mikkola's minutes have gone way up and he increasingly seems like he's going to be there every game.
    The blues seem like they will be a bit of an adventure this year. We did figure out how to start scoring goals again, which is nice, but I think it really boils down to our goaltending. Even winning, we are usually outshot and outplayed for most of the game. I still think we need to be shopping for D men.
    The defense is going to be this team's area of concern. It may get the Blues to the playoffs but ultimately as its stands now it's not good enough for an extended postseason run. Goaltending will loom large and Binnington has done well so far. There's a long way to go and if he keeps playing as well as he has, he's going to get a heavy workload because there will be an incentive to keep putting him out there. I don't know how feasible it will be for the Blues to add defense before the trade deadline. There just isn't the roster room for it and there's no easy way to create space. There were stretches in the second Anaheim game where the Blues just didn't do things they have to do, like getting the puck out of their own zone. Allowing better teams to keep the puck in there will cost them.
    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for doing this.
    Injuries are rampant throughout the league so far this season, and the Blues have had their share of dings, illnesses, and other causes for players to miss games.
    Is there extra caution being exercised, with players sitting out a game or two when they might have been likely to play through it in the past? If so, is this coming from the players, management, or a combination of the two? As in, the NHLPA encouraging players to protect themselves from worsening a minor ailment, while management wants to prevent longer-term injuries and maybe even allow younger depth guys to get more experience.
    I think coaches are getting smarter about when to play players and when to rest them. Berube, like most coaches nowadays, leaves it in the hands of the players to tell him when they're ready to go, and he still balances that with maybe getting the player a day or two of extra time off. He didn't rush Parayko back from his injury. I was talking to Kevin Shattenkirk during the first Anaheim game and he saying he was ready to go that night but the coaching staff wanted him to take another couple of days off. Players will always be in a rush to get back in. In the past, it was because players were afraid they would lose their job. Now, while there's a bit more job security (and a player like Parayko isn't really worried about losing his job), players want to play. It's who they are. And players will want to go out there if they're not 100 percent, or not 90 or 80. Much of it comes down to, will playing with this injury make it worse, or will it just hurt a lot and I won't be as good?
    I know the game announcers are employed by the Blues but at times it seems they are given "a story" the team wants to get across to the audience. When Kyrou disappeared a few games back Panger was basically his PR person with stats and stories. Same on Binnington. Do you see the team favoring their own people over other reporters in the post game interviews or do you all feel you get your questions in? At one interview it felt line the line of questioning had been set up between reporter and coach.
    Well, I think most of the press corps, both employed by the team and not employed by the team, felt judging Kyrou by those first few games was a bit drastic in the scope of what he could do. Guys go through slumps. That's what Kyrou was doing, and it wasn't a total shock in the face of a young kid signing his first huge contract. And there were some positive signs about his play. There were also some negative ones too and some on-ice plays that weren't his best. Though they also weren't unprecedented to see from Kyrou. I've said it a lot of times. He's never going to be a great defensive player, though I suppose he could have a late-career emergence in that department like Perron did.
    As for favoring their own people, there are times when players will sit down with the team social media or broadcast crews when they haven't talked to the media. There are times, notably postgame, when we may not be able to ask all the questions we want because the PR staff is trying to keep things moving and players are getting antsy standing around waiting. It's a curious dynamic. The other day, we were gathered around Binnington, talking to him postgame, when Buchnevich came into the room. He saw we were still talking to Binnington, and wanted to leave and come back, and a staff member told him to stay. I broke off from Binnington to go to Buchnevich and start talking to him, but then he told me to wait until everyone could get over there so he wouldn't get asked the same question a couple times. It's an elaborate ballet sometimes. 
    How about some credit to Binnington? He's kept this team in it. He came prepared to have a very good start and I think he's had one.

    I know Jordan might have his yearly winter slump, just like Jake Allen used to. Here's hoping he doesn't. If they were going to keep Husso, they would have had to overpay for him to pass up a starting job. Not only would Perron be off the team, but another large salaried forward would be off this squad. Considering the questions on defense, Leddy was coming back. It never made any sense to bring Husso back.
    Full disclosure: I've slightly edited this question by taking out some references. 
    Binnington has played very well, and has been instrumental in getting the Blues where they are. The jury remains out on Greiss as the backup. He hasn't played a whole lot and the Blues have put him in some tough situations because of that. He's about even on expected goals and actual goals allowed. 
    Just about every successful team will be successful because of good goaltending. If the goalie isn't good, the team will suffer. My stance on the Husso situation is, as you know, well known. Just no way the Blues could commit any significant amount of money to that position and the way injuries have played out, Leddy has been invaluable, though I think they might have been better served looking for a true defensive defenseman. 
    I have to admit that Buch/Thomas/Kyrou could have a great future. But I still think Schenner should be with Thomas and Kyrou, to provide more physicality. And I like Buch with O'Reilly when we bring the Captain back next year.
    Kyrou seemed a bad match for O'Reilly, but other than that, he's the kind of guy who will be welcome on anyone's line. Schenn is a guy who seems to make any line he's on better. Brings physical play and a solid scoring touch and can play center or wing. How they play out going forward will depend on how well stocked they are at center.
    What is the next area where Mikkola needs to up his game?
    He just needs to be more confident out there, but he has handled the big jump in minutes he got while Parayko was out. He's played more than 20 minutes in five straight games. His analytics haven't always been great, but he's been solid and is looking like someone who can be a part of this group for a while to come. Said Berube yesterday about him:
    "He’s doing the job; I think obviously the more you play somebody, the more confident they’re going to be, for sure. He’s done a good job of grabbing it when we needed him with injuries and different things. He’s gone out and done a good job for all in all defensive situations. ... I think he’s reading the plays better, moving it quicker. For me, that’s been an improvement."
    O'Reilly while playing better had a Corsi score in the 1st Anaheim game of 21% and 33% against the Capitals. Bringing him back maybe an option but it won't be at a salary he likes with those stats
    O'Reilly's Corsi percentage of expected goals percentage has been up and down all season, but those two games you cited were among his lows for the season. (The San Jose game was also down there.) The numbers say O'Reilly has been much better on offense this season than he has been on defense, which goes against his history obviously. This could be one of the best offensive seasons of his career based on his start, which is not what you would expect. 
    I'm struggling to figure out what O'Reilly's next contract looks like, which also may be one of the reasons he doesn't have a new one yet. O'Reilly isn't going to get No. 1 center money because he's not, at least with the Blues. Whether any other team sees him that way remains to be seen. But he's been a big factor for the Blues this season and you can never undervalue what he brings to the team. 
    Welcome to the chat later arrivals. Jim said that's how it went last week, that there weren't many at the start and it gradually picked up steam. Though I wouldn't blame people for not being here as they get ready for Thanksgiving, or to be watching Canada-Belgium at the World Cup. 
    In any case, if you have questions, step right up. 
  • Here's Jim's report from on the scene in Buffalo this morning:

    Game Day: Vladi's back and Torey Krug's a 'go' as well for Blues against Sabres

    STLtoday.comPavel Buchnevich and Colton Parayko are also expected to play tonight after missing practice Tuesday.
  • While we wait, I'll take a soccer question
    I know absolutely nothing about the City's squad. Did the MLS have any expansion draft. Or how did the new STL team put their roster together? Does MLS give their expansion franchises a chance to complete in season one?
  • The MLS expansion draft was two weeks ago, and City drafted five, traded one of them (for money) and traded money for another player. The expansion draft isn't a big source of key personnel. Of the players they got in the draft, maybe one of them will be in the first 11 regularly. 
    Unlike other North American sports, soccer is a global market. The bulk of City's starting lineup was players who were playing in Europe, mostly with ties to German teams. So there were players who were free agents there who the team was able to sign. 
    Some MLS expansion teams have been successful pretty quickly. Some have won championships very quickly in their existence. Not in the first year, but in the first five. Since you're not just taking the dregs from other teams, a smart sporting director (what they call GMs in soccer) can put together a competitive team pretty quickly if he chooses wisely.
    Can I sneak in a comment that while the Parayko deal might never be ideal, I think the deal on defense Armstrong probably is regretting is the Krug deal. This team lost their defensive ace and replaced him with an undersized offensive damn. Signing him seemed like a desperate move at the time and Army hasn't been able to replace Alex.
  • Krug was a surprising move, at least to me, on that day. It wasn't as though Armstrong could find another Pietrangelo, since that's not a player-type you find on the shelf. But he did want to sign a defenseman that day, and that signing also served to signal that the Pietrangelo Era was definitively over. While Krug had some good defensive seasons in Boston, he consistently had good offensive seasons. He's also the oldest of the Parayko-Faulk-Krug troika, which makes the final years of his contract the most dangerous of that bunch. I'm OK with the Parayko deal because he's the one defensive guy they've got back there and they'd be in real trouble without him. As I think I already said in this chat, signing Leddy seemed curious to me, because while he has a definite offensive side -- he's been pretty good there -- the defensive side needed more attention and that's not Leddy's specialty. Seems like Armstrong was betting on continuity there being important. Leddy has been one of the better defenders on the Blues this season, though that's relative.
    For Christmas, can you have Santa turn Nick Leddy into Darian Hatcher? ;)
  • Not sure I can help you on that one.
  • The question hopper is empty at the moment -- I think some of our regular chatters are already on vacation -- so now's the time to ask. Or to cut out of work early and start your long weekend.
    Canada losing to Belgium 1-0 in the 80th minute right now, though from what I've been able to see when I'm not answering questions, Canada has played pretty well. They missed an early penalty shot and an officiating mistake cost them another.
    The Blues have back to back games in Florida this weekend after they escape Buffalo. If the Blues still have a winning streak when they get home to face Dallas on Monday at Enterprise, that will be no small feat.
    The Friday game in Tampa Bay is a TNT game, but Darren Pang isn't working it. He'll be doing Pittsburgh-Philadelphia, the first half of that doubleheader.
    Last call for questions. Speak now or wait until next week.
    OK, looks like everyone is heading into their holiday weekend, combined with the fact that when things are going well, there are far fewer questions to ask or spleens to vent.
    Zach Sanford, put on waivers by Nashville, has cleared, and presumably will be heading back to the AHL.
    And the Rangers have traded Ryan Reaves to Minnesota for a draft pick. He'll be in St. Louis on New Year's Eve for a game. 
    Which reminds me I was watching the Kings-Rangers game last night and Jim Fox, the Kings color man, was talking about Sammy Blais and said, "the Rangers aren't expecting much production out of him."
    One of the analytics people I follow just noted about Reaves "I'm surprised he can still fetch a pick of any kind." Reaves is way below league averages on offense and a bit below league average on defense. Reaves signed a one-year contract for $1.75 million with the Rangers in the offseason. He's 35, so this could be the last go-round for Reaves.
    Hope everyone out there has a good Thanksgiving. Jim's in the chat chair next week. With the holiday this week, there won't be a Netfront Presence podcast, but we'll be back next week.
    And Belgium just beat Canada 1-0, though Canada in its first World Cup in a long time showed well.
    All right, so until next week, see you and take care. 
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