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.

    I remember at the start of the season asking Berube if Toropchenko needed to start the season on a rehab assignment in Springfield because he did not have a preseason and hadn't played in months and being told, He'd be ready to go without any games. His adrenaline got him through a few games at the start, but as it wore off, his game slowed down, and now he's in Springfield on a rehab assignment. (For the record, I am often not right.)
    The forwards at Springfield are depth guys, but they're not top nine depth guys. They would allow guys on the Blues current roster to move up, but the Martin Frks of the world haven't shown they can log those type of minutes in an NHL situation.
    Leivo has actually been one of the better forwards on the Blues this season. He's third among Blues forwards in primary assists with seven (behind only Thomas and Kyrou) and if he was any kind of a finisher, he'd have four or five goals. He has been better than I think anyone would have expected. And since he finally scored, Lou Korac sitting next to me in the press box can stop saying, "I'm calling it, tonight Leivo gets his first goal," which he has been saying for the past month. Leivo shoots the puck, something many Blues have not embraced. 
    I haven't met you, but I feel confident in saying you could not knock Jordan Kyrou off the puck.
    Similar question as Rob, why is Neighbors in the AHL? Is it basically Army doesn't want him in a losing environment? I believe Berube mentioned he played fine last time he was here and fine is way better than what other players have given.
    Neighbours is in the AHL so he can play. Armstrong said it in training camp: If Neighbours is playing on the fourth line (or playing fourth line minutes on the third line), he should be in Springfield. When Neighbours played 9:08 against Carolina, or 8:28 against Philadelphia, that set the table: Neighbours would be going down. AHL boxscores don't list time on ice -- they don't have the stat infrastructure the NHL does -- but Neighbours is probably getting around 20 minutes with the T-birds. That's what he needs to get better and be an NHL regular. Playing on the power play, penalty kill, in all the big situations that he's not going to get in the NHL right now. He's 20 years old. He's got plenty of time, and there's no proof that right now that his presence on the Blues roster would make a substantive difference. He was well below league averages in both offense and defense during his time in St. Louis.
    Thanks for the chat. You said that most of the shots are coming from the high slot. Have you broken it down by what lines are allowing those shots? Would that normally be a forward/Center or D man covering that?
    I haven't and it would take some time during the chat. 
    According to the numbers at moneypuck.com, the Blues forward line that allows the most expected goals for the other team (adjusting for time on ice) is Buchnevich-Thomas-Kyrou. Three of the top four lines for expected goals allowed per 60 minutes are a line with Kyrou on them, but at the same time, three of the top five lines for expected goals scored per 60 minutes include Kyrou. And the best line for expected goals percentage is Saad-O'Reilly-Kyrou. 
    So I think the answer is pay attention when Kyrou is on the ice because that's the best chance of when something will happen. 
    The NHL has identity issues. In Canadian juniors they allow fighting probably promote it. The American equivalent does not allow fighting. Sweden, Finland no fighting. So players coming in from those programs don't fight when they get to the NHL. But Canadian media and fans give Austin Matthews a hard time for not fighting. Gretzky never fought. The macho baloney in the league is a negative. Especially for kids. Canadian hockey dogma seems to dominate. Why?
    Because the majority of the league is still Canadian, both in the front office and on the ice. And there are very few Europeans in management, and those that are usually have been in the North American game for a long time.
    I don't get the why everyone singles out Parayko. In games he eats minutes, skates well, and frequently goes in deep to the boards in the offensive zone then is able to get back into position because of his speed and skating ability. Is it that he looks like Pronger and people want him to fight 3/week and anchor the PK? Glad to see him break through and get a goal. I hope he grabs a few more. Seems like he plays the 'go to work and get your job done' kind of hockey the Blues are supposed to be about.
    Berube said earlier this year that Parayko doesn't kill players, he kills plays. He's a smart man with a big body and has found an efficient way to use it. 
    He's also the best defensive defenseman the Blues have. I've said it dozens of times, but he's a much better defensive player than an offensive player, but people get too hung on on the offensive side. Yes, maybe if he shot more, or if he was on the power play more, he'd score more. But he's one of the better defensive defensemen in the league and that's what he brings to the team. 
    Any idea of what the record is of games in a row allowing 3 goals in a period?
    Don't know that that's one the NHL tracks, though I'm sure they have the technology to come up with the answer. Wouldn't surprise me if back in the high-scoring days there were some bad teams that had decent-sized runs.
    Tom,

    One of the maddening things about this season is the number of quick goals scored by the opposition after the Blues score. At least it seems like it happens a lot. Blues tie the game or go ahead, and less than a minute later they give up a goal. Why do you think that happens? Do the players relax a little after they score?
    It's an old axiom of not just hockey that teams are always vulnerable just after they score, and is that ever true for the Blues. A lot of it has to be mental, the feeling, "OK, things are looking up, we've scored a goal, maybe we won't lose this game, oh wait, I was supposed to clear that puck." Alas, while I track the number of times the Blues respond with a goal within the next minute after the opponent scores, I for some reason haven't tracked it the other way.
    Did losing our 4th line stalwarts like Mackenzie Machechern, Dakota Joshua even Klim Kostin have any overall effect on the team.
    I don't think so, at least not in a major sense, but the fourth line has been all over the map this season. Some good moments early on, but lately, other than Acciari, not getting a whole lot done. Walker, Pitlick, Toropchenko have been up and down, and more often down lately. So while there is some definite benefit to having an effective fourth line, the problems on the team are happening well before that.
    Do you think Doug Armstrong calls Stevie Y once a week asking what it would take to bring Sundqvist back?
    And send Leddy back for him? Actually, Sundqvist's numbers this season aren't that great, so maybe not.
    To follow up on Parayko, wanted to throw it out there that he was absolutely fantastic when he met my young son who idolizes him. Great guy. Just wanted to get that out there.
    If Lady Byng voting actually was based on a guy being a gentleman, Parayko would win every time.
    Just wanted to respond quickly. The current 11/7 can change quickly when everyone is healthy.
    Tucker instead of Walker.... Leivo is your extra forward 11/7 is only 1 player away from what I'm suggesting.. Tucker, Mikkola, Bortuzzo, Rosen is defense. Leddy, Parayko, Krug, Faulk is offense.
    Yeah, but if you were going to go 10-8, wouldn't you want to carry 9 defensemen in case someone got hurt? I think it would be tough to switch back and forth between 10-8 and 12-6. 
    In any case, it's all theoretical because, and I use this term seldom, it is never going to happen. 
    I was shaking my head about the number of bad-bounce goals pouring in on Blues goalies, and then I reminded myself that any team that allows 40-50 shots per game is going to let in a lot of those. What is your explanation for how much worse the the team defense is this year compared to last?
    The Blues finished last season 8% below the league average on expected goals allowed at five on five last season, and right now are at 12% below the average. In comparing heat maps, the big difference is that while they gave up a lot of shots in the slot last season, they now give up an awful lot of shots in the slot. Last season they were at 2.8 xG per 60 minutes at 5 on 5. This season, they're at 3.0. (And two seasons ago, they were 2.4, so it's a continuing trend.)
    Speaking of the Red Wings, I can't help but wonder if Yzerman might kick the tires on O'Reilly around the trade deadline. Has obvious chemistry with Perron and has the kind of leadership Yzerman would covet with a young roster. Red Wings are stacked with young defensive prospects, Think Blues could maybe pry Simon Edvinsson or William Walllinder from them?
    I suppose if the Red Wings thought he would put them over the top for a playoff spot this season they would do it, Not sure how highly they value those players. Gordo might have a better thought on Friday.
    Regarding Binner's play and Chief's recent comments about him needing to focus and lose the silly distractions....I got the sense when Jake Allen was here that he performed best when the team had a 1A/1B type of situation, rather than Allen being the clear #1. It's starting to seem similar for Binn, that he almost needs the pressure of another viable number one keeper who could relegate him to the bench, in order to really focus and be at his best. Is that a fair read?
    It never hurts to have a definite competition and have two goalies that a team feels comfortable using. Allen and Brian Elliott did a good job of pushing each other. But the problem for the Blues and Binnington is he's always going to be the preferred choice by virtue of his contract. Still, last season, the Blues went with Husso over Binnington for long stretches; Binnington peaked in the playoffs before getting hurt, but that was such a small window that it's hard to say if it was just a temporary thing or not. So I guess my point is, I don't know?
    With the Blues up and down season, mostly down unfortunately, if the Blues went to see the Wizard of Oz, should they ask for a heart, courage or a brain?
    I am loathe to say NHL players lack heart. These guys wouldn't have gotten where they are today if they didn't have huge amounts of it. Same for courage and brains. But it does seem in the mind game part of hockey, the Blues are having trouble. But it wouldn't hurt to ask the wizard for a shutdown defenseman.
    To. - for your metrics, do we need to be logged in for us to count as participating or readers of that chats? Most of the time I just read and only occasionally send in a question or comment.
  • Excellent question, and I have no idea what the little "Watchers" meter on the top of the window counts. Probably being signed in, but I've never actually checked. I should look into that. I think the number that matters most is people who read it at some point.
    I'll be honest....it has been really hard for me to watch the games lately with all of the sloppy play, lack of urgency/effort, and boneheaded mistakes. Since Army and company set the expectations of this team making the playoffs and still being in the "Cup window", I carry those same expectations and find it almost intolerable how bad good players are playing. Thus, I tune out. Now, I am a season ticket holder for St. Louis City SC, and will watch all games excitedly because I do not have high expectations. Am I normal, or am I just being pessimistic about the Blues?
    Well, it's hard to be too optimistic about this Blues team right now, and with the up and down nature of this team, I don't know what it would take for anyone, from Armstrong on down, to feel comfortable about this team, because obviously a seven-game winning streak wasn't enough. And that will probably factor into any decisions Armstrong makes. It will take a lot of convincing about this being a good team with a Cup chance.
    Tom, I know we are a ways from the March 3rd trade deadline. With the team’s lack of consistency, is it better to wait till February to start improving the team for next year if Army’s phone starts ringing or wait till closer to the deadline to try and inflate the value of some of the players being asked about?
    For all their struggles, the Blues aren't that far out of a playoff spot and even a short winning streak would put them back in the mix. But at this point, there's no reason to think another losing streak won't happen. And there's also no reason to pull the plug on the season this soon. There's not a whole lot to be gained by unloading personnel now, unless there's a team that has a glaring need and is willing to make a big offer. But we're probably getting closer to the point where for the right price, Armstrong will part with players. The All-Star break, at the start of February, could be a good time to consider that.
    Tom - sorry for the typos. Just an old guy fumbling with his iPad keyboard.
    I've been considering invoking a spelling requirement, at least on player's names. On the Cardinals chat, it was always amazing how many people couldn't spell Mike Shildt's name.
    What is going on with the PK? 65% (dead last in the league) is completely unacceptable. How did they fall so far so fast? The Blues relied on special teams last year to make up for less than stellar 5 v 5 analytics. If they don't get this cleaned up, they aren't sniffing the playoffs.
    No bigger problem right now than the PK. And it's been a problem long enough that the team should have had ample time, and ample examples, to break it down in depth and figure something out. And the mystery is what magic touch Jim Montgomery had that hasn't been passed on to the remaining staff. It's a good thing for the Blues they have stretches where they don't commit many penalties.
    Tom, what was it that Montgomery brought to the table for the PK that either couldn't have carried over (basically same personnel) or been somewhat replicated or continued by either MacTavish or Van Ryn? I think I saw a twitter comment by a beat writer saying something about Montgomery being good at anticipation, was that basically opponent PP analysis and preparation to defend? They're trending towards 50%, there's has to be something that can be done.
    The Blues clearly haven't been very good at anticipating on the ice. There will always be open spaces when you're a man down, but the Blues let a lot of opponents have way too much space.
    Tom, I wanted to take a second and congratulate you on moving over to the soccer beat. I know you have a long history with the sport and will do a terrific job. The P-D is fortunate to have someone ready to take over. I hope you get to cover the World Cup in 2026. Looks like Josh Sargent is going to be around awhile. On a related note, any other St. Louis natives on the rise that could be national team prospects? Tim Ream was great but he's 35.
    Thank you. I certainly hope to cover the 2026 World Cup, though they won't be playing any games in St. Louis. Haven't done one since 2006 in Germany. Many years ago, I was thinking 2022 would be in America.
    At the moment, after Sargent, there's no other obvious St. Louis player for the national team that comes to mind, but there's a long ways to go before then. And it was amazing to see Tim Ream go from nowhere to become one of the best and steadiest players on the U.S. team in Qatar. He had quite a tournament. 
    Sorry. Hit entered too quickly.the blues have played the most games in our division despite starting the season a week later than other teams. Seems like a lot games recently. Injuries occur when tired and losing streaks occur when tired. Any thoughts?
    by Have the blues ever complained about the schedule? 12/7/2022 10:00:26 PM
    The schedule may have limited the Blues ability to deal with some problems, but the original problems are all of their own doing. And it's something they'll have to deal with. No team has a perfect schedule where everything sets up nicely.
    How has Neighbours been playing in Springfield? I was thinking about this earlier today: You might as well let him develop in Springfield this year. It's pretty clear that he isn't moving the needle for the Blues this year. That's not in any way meant to suggest that he is a bust. He's only 20 years old. Give him the rest of the year in the AHL to develop, playing top 6 minutes and in all situations. Hopefully, as the year goes along, he'll start to excel against that talent level and will be ready to make the jump back up to St. Louis next year. Is the fact that Bitten is with the team and not Neighbours now a sign that this is the course the Blues are favoring?
    I don't think Bitten is here long term. When Toropchenko comes off his rehab assignment, he'll be back and Bitten will return to Springfield. Neighbours needs to play. He is a far bigger part of the Blues picture going forward than Bitten is. Not sure when Neighbours will come back, but I'm sure from the Blues point of view, they'd like the next time they make that move, he's there to stay. But right now, more AHL games can't hurt.
    OK, there are some more questions but I think I've already given an answer to most of them in other questions, so I'll put a lid on this week's chat. Thanks to everybody for participating and we'll be back next week. And for those waiting for the next Net Front Presence, it looks like we're aiming for Friday. So be on the lookout for that. 
    Take care and we'll see what the next week has in store. It could be anything the way this season is going. 
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