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. Or, according to the little counter on my file, the one, at this moment. The trend we've noted in Blues coverage is when the team loses, people reading stories about the games go down while people jumping in to the chat goes up. So we'll see how that works today.
    Early question due to scheduling issues.

    Kyrou in or out, Binnington in or out the Blues still give up way too many goals in particular very close to the net no matter the current scapegoat’s contribution. We see this, the coaches obviously see this and instruct the team, the players know it, but it continues. The team looks like they know Berube is gone in the near term. Are we at the point where a “new voice” is needed for a team that refuses to play hockey the right way?
    No indication Berube is gone in the "near term." Armstrong has said that's not going to happen. What I never understand about needing a "new voice" is, who are the players for whom his message has gone stale? Some of these guys haven't been there all that long. So has it gone stale for O'Reilly? Bortuzzo? And if you change coaches, heck, barring a 2019-ish turnaround, the veterans who Berube's message would have been most likely to go stale for are the ones headed out the door after this season anyway. Players who think they're going to outlast Berube might be in for a surprise. (That said, I can pretty much guarantee you that Thomas and Kyrou will outlast Berube. After that, it gets a bit tricky.)
    Was just looking at a heat map for the team's defense. The worst spot is not right in front of the net. It's in the slot, about even with the faceoff dots. That's where opponents are getting the most of their shots. 
    I can't, but I think when we get into the end of this season, we'll see that the Blues are an average team. They may finish just above average or just below average depending on the randomness of hockey, but right now, there's nothing to say this team is exceptional in any way. That said, they could still make the playoffs, and maybe they find some elixir along the way, some 2023 version of Jordan Binnington, that changes everything. (Maybe that elixir is Binnington himself.) Hard to explain why a team would be so susceptible to one thing going bad and then jack knifing into a coma. But they do that, and I was fully prepared for last night's game to go 5-5 and go to OT. That it didn't is testament to, I don't know what. But I guess it's a step. 
    I will say teams often start playing better before a losing streak turns into a winning streak and the Rangers game could have been that turning point, disregarding the third period. But gosh do they need to start allowing fewer goals.
    Any word on Krug or Buchnevich?
    No. The Blues were off today after the back to backs, so while the two obviously got looked at by the medical staff today, the team likely won't be saying anything until Thursday. No one has been placed on IR an no one has been called up from Springfield, at least that has hit the transaction wires.
    Seems like the Blues are playing a lot of back-to-back series that roll into four games in six days. I checked a few other teams, by no means a scientific study, who didn't seem to have that type of scheduling. Do you think all these games in a relatively short period of time are part of the turmoil the team has experienced this season?
    Ken Hitchcock used to say that back to back games weren't the problem, it was the 3 games in 4 days that wore on players. That led to me doing a famous (within the beat) bit of research on how the team did in that third game, and in one of Yeo's seasons, they were unbeaten in that third game when it was the back end of a back to back. I asked Yeo about that and got even a stranger look than I would often get when asking a question. November and December have been very busy months for the Blues without many days for practice, which means less time to cure bad habits. So that could lead to streaks, since players are somewhat operating on automatic pilot in those stages. If you're feeling good, you keep feeling good. Feeling bad, you keep feeling bad. I don't have the numbers handy for this season, but the Blues in most seasons have been on the favorable side when it comes to the number of back-to-backs in one season.
    Hey Tom! Happy hump day! So, where does your gut tell you the Blues will end up at the end of the year? Playoff team? Official rebuild mode? New coach?
    My gut tells me they end up in the mid to upper 80s in points, though if there's a selloff at the trade deadline, that number will drop. But at the same time, if you're on track for 88 and manage to pull out three wins that it didn't look like you'd get, all of a sudden you're right around being a playoff team, and three extra wins over the final four-plus months of the season isn't a whole heck of a lot. If they don't make the playoffs, or limp into the playoffs, you'll see a rebuild, but a lot of that will be not resigning UFAs. I think you're more likely to see new assistant coaches than a new head coach.
    Any word on Logan Brown? I no he isn't anywhere close to returning, but was any timetable given, like reevaluate in 3 months or anything? Seems weird there's been so little info on him.
    Last update on Brown was that there was no update, that nothing had changed. I've seen him in the press box during games walking to the Blues booth, and he's walking fine. He still isn't skating. Tomorrow will make one month since he last played; there was no indication at that point that he would be out this long, but I don't recall the Blues ever putting a time table on him.
    If this team continues being streaky and hovering around .500, are they sellers at the deadline? What kind of return would you expect to get for ROR or Tarasenko?
    If nothing changes, the Blues are clearly sellers at the deadline. Would be silly to trade prospects or picks to try to bolster this team the way it's playing now. The Blues will be looking for a player and a prospect or a player and a draft pick. What they end up getting will be depend on how O'Reilly and Tarasenko play the rest of the way. Still a decent chance they keep O'Reilly around.
    Tom,

    Do you see Armstrong trying to trade to upgrade the defense? Is there any interest in Kane from Chicago? This team needs a bolt of something to get things going.
    Can't imagine there's much interest in Kane, or that he would have much interest in coming to St. Louis, or that the Blackhawks would consider trading him here.
  • But yes, a defensive upgrade would be a good thing. How exactly they would do that is the tricky part.
    He had a shoulder injury at the start of the season, but returned from that to play, then got hurt again with an upper body injury on Nov. 8. Good chance it's a shoulder again, but we don't know for sure.
    For some reason I thought Logan Brown had a shoulder injury. Is it worse that anticipated?
    Answered those out of order, just to be sure you're paying attention.
    Hey Tom, thanks for the chat. Do you think the Blues are starting to feel the loss of to many of “heart and soul” kind of players? Seems like you need enough of those guys for the heavy forecheck blues style of hockey to succeed. They lost Schwartz last year but still plenty of others. Then you subtract Sunqvist, and now no Perron or Bozak. Did the team cross a
    Tipping point of not having enough of those types who drag/inspire the other guys into battle and playing the right way?
    There is a case to be made that the loss of Perron and Bozak in one offseason did do some damage in the room, losing some calming influences on the team. But the Blues have Schenn, who will drag guys into the battle as well as anyone, as will Bortuzzo and O'Reilly and some other guys who would do it without starting fights. The problem, of course, in the case of someone like Bozak is he may have been a guiding influence in the room and on the bench but he wasn't bringing a whole lot on the ice, especially on offense. 
    I think the Blues would definitely still benefit from having Perron around, for just about every reason possible. And I'm probably not alone in thinking that. 
    There have been questions over style and consistency the last two years, there have also been questions over leadership. It’s telling when a new guy like Acrai is one of the most obvious players game after game while other forwards are often rarely noticed. Do the Blues need someone from the old core like Barbeshev to be traded to focus or change the character of the team? The top 9 look much better on paper than they have played this season.
    I don't know that you can make one more that will change the character of the team. If so, Acciari would be doing it, especially with his play over the past month. 
    I did not, at the start of this season, expect the Blues top nine to contain Josh Leivo, and on occasion it has included Tyler Pitlick, which I really didn't see. When everyone is healthy, the Blues have a good top nine. It drops off after that, and Leivo has made a decent case for himself. 
    Barbashev, as a pending UFA, is a prime candidate to be traded, though if/when he gets traded, the Blues are unlikely to get someone in return who changes the team's character. 
    I am extremely disappointed in your move to soccer. All these years of excellent hockey chatting down the tubes! You can't leave us high and dry! Why don't you just continue the chats? Soccer is like the WWF fake players playing the fake injury card al the time. You're not going to like it!
  • Thanks Roy. I'm sure you'll find Matt to be just as entertaining and informative. I don't know that I'd feel comfortable doing the chats if I wasn't at every game and practice and being around the team all the time.
    Greiss had a very good game last night. Does he start on Thursday or does Berube go back to Binnington?
    After the game, I was thinking this would be a chance to come back with Greiss on Thursday and get Binnington a little break. Fun fact: Since Nov. 17, Greiss is 3-0 and Binnington is 2-6.
    It seems the loss of Perron pales in comparison to the loss of Montgomery to the Bruins. Apparently, JM brought something to the team that it has not been able to replace. We're a third of the way into the season, and the team looks lost.
    If you'd control for constants, as we  like to do in research, you would say that with the same basic set of players on the ice, Montgomery is the one thing that's different, so is likely a cause for the change. Yet it's not like Montgomery slipped off to Boston with the formula for Coca-Cola in his brief case and didn't tell anyone. The whole staff knew what he was doing and the players knew how to do it. It's not a case where the Blues have re-invented the wheel, or in this case, destroyed the wheel. The easy answer is that they are less aggressive than they used to be. Why that would be, I don't know. It's not as though they don't get yelled at in practice.
    This was on twitter by Andy Banker but it sums up the team.

    Top +- Rosen +10 (40th in NHL)
    next Mikkola +5

    Top scorer: Thomas 23pts (68th)

    Awful Goaltending: Binnington 47th in Goals against

    45th in Save % (only 32 teams)

    High paid players:

    Krug -22
    Kyrou -20
    O’Reilly -17
    Schenn -12
    Tarasenko -10
    First off, stop thinking so much about +/-. You want to know what those guys also have in common: They're on the ice when the Blues pull the goalie and bring on a sixth attacker, something at which the Blues stink. When you give up a goal with a sixth attacker, those players get a minus. So yes, Krug is -22, but -9 of that comes from sixth attacker situations. Yes, he was on the ice when he gave up the goal, but the team was already losing at the time and it didn't change the outcome of the game. Most of those other guys have been on the ice for the majority of those. And that's just one reason it's a flawed stat. I think Tarasenko is -8 on empty-net goals allowed alone. If the Blues didn't pull the goalie and still lost those games, he'd be a -2. 
    Now, don't get me wrong: there are plenty of analytics that will tell you that Torey Krug is not a great defensive player, nor is Faulk. And those stats will also tell you that Rosen is doing well and is probably worthy of more time. 
    Can't argue about the goaltending much, though the Blues defensive play has made it tough for Binnington a lot of times. And until the last few games, Binnington was pretty much right at what his expected goals against were. He has fallen behind a bit over the past few games.
    Not a lot of players on this team right now are playing well. But +/- isn't the way to measure it. 
    Sorry that last answer took so long.
    If Armstrong were to trade ROR or Barby before the deadline, could you think Army would try to resign either of them in the offseason? Would either be inclined to return to the Blues?
    O'Reilly might. They could do a Tkachuk with him. Very unlikely that would happen with Tarasenko.
    Crazy question here.... Have you ever known a team to go with 3 forward lines and more defensemen...it seems the 4th line barely plays? Could a team make it work with 3 lines....or would it be too taxing physically? This would allow for more specialization for defensemen. We have offensive defensemen and defensive defensemen. With 8 defensemen you could have 2 offensive pairs and 2 defensive pairs. (go with 10 forwards, in case one gets hurt). Using this scenario you would should always have a forward line that capable of scoring.....and you could tailor your defensemen based on what you need at that time. Offensive guys for power plays and when we need to score.....defensive guys for penalty kills and when we need to clamp down.....the game will likely dictate which group plays when. Just thinking outside the box.
    That would take a definite commitment on the part of a team because you would have to totally change the way you build your roster. You'd have to carry eight (or nine) defensemen. That just doesn't happen.
    I will say that most times when the Blues go 11-7, that fourth line, consisting of Acciari, a wing and someone from another line, that group gets very few minutes and the Blues do, in a way, become a three-line team. But they still have the other guys available. 
    But the roster machinations involved with going 10-8 make it pretty much an impossibility 
    Can you explain goalie interference? It seems really arbitrary to me. Last year Kadri slams into Binner and no call because puck was in the crease. Earlier this year goal was removed because barbashev made minor contact while puck was in the crease. Bortuzzo gets a penalty despite being pushed in. And more recently a goal against stood despite Binners glove getting hit while he was in his crease.
    Tom, 26 games in I think we see what the Blues are. An inconsistent team. Also, I’m not sure how players like Pitlick and Leivo manage to stay on the roster. Between the two of them they have two goals, eight assists for ten points. I can’t believe we don’t have bodies at Springfield that can’t contribute more. What happened to Toropchenko? Did he go into witness protection? Kyrou is a -20 and apparently not a very accurate passer. He’s a human marshmallow. In open ice he’s all that, but I’m pretty sure at age 65 I could knock him off the puck. I wish we could get Tyler Tucker back in the lineup. I can see him eventually being a Nikita Zadorov type player. We need some physicality.
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