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.

    Welcome to a Dead Man Walking edition of Blues chat, as I step into the chair one more time. Who knows how many more of these there are. I may have to cut out a little early do to other professional obligations, but the Blues have been winning, so that usually keeps the ruckus down. With no further ado, let's get started.
    How does buchy feel on the 100th pt as a blue? also what happened last night? Why did chief change lines, i thought 89 10 91 was a perfect line!
    Buchnevich looked about as happy as you would him to look after doing that in a game his team lost decisively. As to why the lines where changed, with Kyrou out, Berube presumbly didn't want to plop Acciari into Kyrou's spot and have his best playmaker playing with two grinders. So that meant moving Tarasenko over there. Had Kyrou not been hurt, the lines wouldn't have changed.
    As to what has happened, the Blues have played a lot of hockey lately and looked tired. Their passing was off and they were turning the puck over and getting hemmed in and beat. You're going to get nights like this over the course of the season.
    I don't understand when all these NHL teams need trades why no team does any? I get the restrictions with money in and out to neutralize the cap hit. I don't understand what everyone is waiting for? They have had months already. How much more time does Army need to figure out IF he wants to save the season we need a trade or two? What is his strategy?
    It's obviously not just Armstrong, no one in the league is making moves. (And, of course, right now is the Christmas roster freeze and they couldn't make a trade if they want to.) The simplest reason is the trade deadline is a ways off and, as Larry Pleau and countless others have said, if there weren't deadlines, nothing would happen. Some teams, like the Blues are on that line between being a playoff team and not and are waiting to see if they are buyers or sellers. Some GMs may not want to disassemble their team before Christmas because 1) it looks bad for them and 2) it probably works against people buying tickets and stuff as Christmas presents. Many teams are right up against the cap and making a dollar for dollar trade is hard, especially when a team having a fire sale doesn't want dollar for dollar, they want your draft picks and prospects. If the Blues were to trade Tarasenko, they don't want a guy making $7.5 million back. They want a good youngster. And the longer teams go saving money under the cap, the more room they have to add a better player at the deadline.
    Kraken vastly improved this year and soon will be an elite team. Do the Blues miss Dunner?
    Dunn is playing very well offensively and defensively with the Kraken, maybe the best of his career. He is playing better than he did for the Blues, which is not surprising since he's 26 and pretty much in the prime of his career. But the way the expansion draft was set up, Dunn was going to be the guy who was gone. They weren't going to expose Faulk or Krug or Parayko. And he was due a big raise and the Blues weren't going to be able to give it to him with the commitments they had made elsewhere.
    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for doing this.
    Based on what you’ve seen so far, do the Blues make the playoffs?
  • I'm more likely to be right if I say no, but based on what I've seen, it's hard to say because I've seen good and I've seen bad, and there's been a little more bad. But the good is catching up. But if someone gets hurt -- if Kyrou misses more than a few games, for instance -- or Binnington goes in a slump, they're done. Kyrou's injury yesterday showed a weakness with this team: If one of their top nine goes out, they don't have a replacement. Noel Acciari has played well for the Blues this season, but he is not a top nine answer, and no one else in the organization, at the moment, is. Other than Neighbours, who isn't quite ready, Bolduc and Snuggerud, there isn't top level forward talent in the organization, just a lot of depth guys and fourth liners. So the Blues are walking a fine line with a stiff penalty for slipping. Maybe they stay healthy and maybe things break their way. And if other teams have worse injuries, that could also help the Blues.
    Philly has made JVR available . They will pay half his cap hit. He would be a much needed net front presence and he can score. I don't know if this is possible but his contract would be prorated and Philly takes half the hit. Then We give them Pitlick and Lievo 1.5 million there and a 5 th round pick. Toropchenko Leivo Mikkola cannot finish and we miss Perron's production. JVR would be a nice addition IF ARMY wants to try and salvage the season. Again I have no idea what he's waiting for--we need a trade or two to have any hope this year. This is me hypothesizing of course.
    I don't know that Philadelphia will keep half his cap hit. That would be $3.5 million. They'll keep some of it. But at this point, I don't see the Blues giving up assets and if Philadelphia is going to trade him, what good does it do them getting Pitlick, Leivo and a late pick? They're not trading van Riemsdyk because they can't stand the sight of him and feel he's a cancer on the team. They're trading him because they're going nowhere and want to get something for a pending UFA. They want something good in return. They will get a better offer than that by waiting for more teams to be able to acquire him.
    I'm wondering how much the Blues schedule is impacting results. If I remember correctly, they started the year playing the least amount of games leaguewide. This could have delayed the development of chemistry amongst a number of new players and new line combinations. Then and now, we have a condensed schedule with a LOT of back-to-back games. Fatigue. What do you think about the schedule's impact, and what do you think Armstrong thinks about this? In other words, maybe we should be less panicky right now as the team's momentum may build at the right time when the schedule is not as challenging.
    The Blues have 14 sets of back to backs this season. The Rangers and Columbus have the most with 16, and Vegas has only seven, Seattle has eight. Statistically speaking, 14 is the mode. A few years ago, the Blues had the fewest back to backs. The Blues are just under the league average for miles traveled in the season. Teams out west have it way worse in terms of travel than the Blues do. 
    If the Blues don't make the playoffs, it's not because of the schedule. Maybe the schedule costs them a point or two along the way, but the Blues also get the same thing. They have nine times this season when they play a rested team while tired, and nine times when they play a tired team while rested. Anaheim has the biggest favorable difference in those kind of games, and where it has gotten them? The Rangers have the least favorable difference in those kinds of games and they'd be in the playoffs right now. A few years back, the Blues were a great team when the third game in four nights. They were undefeated in those games.
    But back to the bigger point, results are a combination of timing. All of life is about timing. If I don't go to church on that day, do I never meet my future wife? Does a team get hot while playing good teams and still lose or does it get hot in an easy part of the schedule and run away with games? Are the Blues winning now because they are playing the Pacific Division, which is very bad this season? That's why you need to look at the underlying numbers and the underlying numbers say the Blues are slightly above average offensive and well below average defensively. They say they are not finishing as well as they should and their goaltending for the season is pretty much average.   
    So I know very little about soccer. Why would an expansion team not take the best player available?
    If it's a position where you already have someone playing instead of him, it woudn't be the best move. And this is the MLS college draft. There isn't a Sidney Crosby in there. The best American soccer players don't go to college. They turn pro out of high school. Only a handful of the players chosen in this draft will immediately be starters in MLS.
    Tom, great writing in the PD. Listen, I thought the Kyrou contract for Thomas money may be much, but now I see linking Kyrou's contract so close to his buddy's may be a BARGAIN. And with security of the contracts, both are learning to play good D. That Kyrou steal from M to set up Vladi's tying goal was just great D + instant passing brilliance. Your thoughts?

    Also, Buchnevich looks like an MVP of team, plus Leddy starting to get on his horse--he'll be a big help. Blues D is coming... Your thoughts?
    The Blues will get their money's worth from Kyrou. Yes, he will allow goals because he's never going to be a great defensive player, but he's going to score way more than he's going to give up. And he's going to get better defensively. And in a few years, that contract will look like a bargain.
    When the league chooses a Blue for the All-Star team, Buchnevich would be the choice, though Kyrou is making a run at it and he does have a bit more pizzazz than Buchnevich. I don't know how good the Blues D group can get as constituted. Leddy has been playing well but, as colleague Jeff Gordon has noted often, Leddy is miscast in the shutdown D role. It's just not his thing. 
    You don't think Nikita Alexandrov is a top 9 player? I don't know anything about Highmore but he's put up good numbers. Boulduc, Snuggerud and Neighbors are years away. Alexandrov is ready now ahead of all those guys.
    At best, Alexandrov will be a third line player. Nothing wrong with that, but that's going to be his ceiling. Neighbours isn't that far away. He should be with the big club next season. Bolduc continues to put up big numbers in juniors, but got left off the Canadian junior team, which the Blues are going to hope makes him mad and he goes out to show everybody wrong. He didn't have a great camp with the Blues, so right now, the season after next seems more likely for him.
    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for doing this and for all your Blues coverage in recent years. Good luck on the new beat.
    A victory in Vegas over the top team in the West would make it a highly successful road trip. Then after Christmas, there is a grueling stretch until the week-long break at the end of January.
    Do you think the Blues are looking at this upcoming five weeks as the chance to really push to get into a playoff spot by the end of January, then use the week off to rest and prepare for another two-month push to secure their position? I know we are told they take it one game at a time, but it seems prudent to look at the schedule in sections to make the tough stretches of back-to-back games more manageable.
    While coaches preach looking one game at a time, they also look at them in groups, some times by months, sometimes in 10 game sets, or some other combination. And there are reference points in the season. The NHL trade deadline is March 3, but I would think by when the Blues hit the All-Star break on Jan. 30, they'll have a pretty good idea where they stand. January is pretty rhythmic, with a game pretty much every other day and only one set of back to backs. They have a run of 10 out of 14 games at home in there. If they are going to do it, that's the time. Can they do it? That's going to be the question.
    If Army makes an early deal, it's because he's stealing. Otherwise, he's pat till the trading deadline.
    Everyone is waiting for someone else to make the first move. Once there's one trade, there will likely be a lot of trades.
    Hi Tom,

    Happy Holidays. Does Armstrong stick with Griess all season? I get that Griess faces a shooting gallery most nights, but man alive he makes some choices in net that boggle the mind. I would like to Hofer come up and get some minutes. I know it's not wise to let a young goal tender ride the bench, but if the Blues could use a 55/45 split in net it shouldn't hurt Hofer's development too much.
    Griess has had several games like last night, where's he's making a lot of good saves and looking sharp, then lets in a clunker. And then, of course, the Blues come back, score a few goals and everyone says, 'You know if it weren't for that bad goal, this would be a one-goal game. But it's not.' I think Hofer coming up for Greiss is one of the first things to happen when the season is officially on the skids, much like Binnington for Chad Johnson back in 18-19.
    Merry Christmas Tom! Looking at the new year how can the Blues expect to battle for a long playoff run if they continue to have players like Walker, Leivo and Pitlick playing minutes? Thanks.
  • It will be difficult. If it's any consolation, Walker and Pitlick aren't going to be in the lineup at the same time very often. Josh Leivo has been one of the Blues' best two-way forwards. It's his finishing that's holding him back. And you got to respect that the guy shoots the puck, a skill often missing for the Blues.
    I’ve noticed on the TV coverage of the Blues that the camera really moves a lot in order to follow the action. But I wonder why we haven’t seen more creativity with the cameras For instance it would be interesting to have a camera view behind the
  • behind the net? Bally Sports does have one at most games. Camera positions are often limited by teams not wanting them to get in the way of people who paid for seats. Low camera angles can be quite dramatic, but the high wide shot gives you the best view of a developing play.
    If you want it behind something else, let me know.
    What do you make of the overall "lethargy" of the Western Conference right now? Only 6 of the top 15 teams in the entire league are from the West. Have injuries had that much of an impact? Colorado, for example. If not, what's the deal?
    It's a lot of things. Injuries to teams like Colorado, not enough depth in Edmonton, new guys not fitting in right away in Calgary, nothing working in Vancouver, there's a lot of reasons. At the moment, it's what's keeping the Blues' hopes alive. Gordo wrote about it a week ago:

    Gordo: Conference-wide struggles are keeping the sputtering Blues in playoff race

    STLtoday.comThe Blues have failed to sustain traction this season, but they remain the playoff race because many Western Conference rivals are plodding along too.
    Hey Tom,

    If the Blues trade ROR and/or Tarasenko, who brings back the biggest loot? Is it ROR for leadership or Tarasenko for skill set?
    In the long term you'd want O'Reilly, but if you're trading for either one at the deadline, you're looking for goals and not a second or third line center, and that will mean Tarasenko brings the bigger return.
    Watching Buffalo play it was alarming how much bigger Tage Thompson is over the average NHLer. He is big athletic and can do it all. I read from another poster Buffalo really wanted him in the ROR trade. So Buffalo actually knew what they were doing at the time of the trade? I would like a do over!!!
    Buffalo asked for Thomas. The Blues said no. Buffalo asked for Kyrou. The Blues said no. Buffalo asked for Thompson, the Blues said yes. Or so it's been reported.
    Are the Blues one player away from being a serious cup contender and if so, what one player would make the difference? (Note: It has to be a player that is actually attainable.)
    No, the Blues are not one player away from being a serious Cup contender, certainly not an actually attainable player.
    Tom T. As always thank you for doing these chats. I don’t really have a question but wanted to thank you for your excellent reporting and informative articles on the St Louis Blues over the years. You will be sorely missed!
    I personally will likely not be reading you in the future as I grew up in a small midwestern town (that had no soccer of any kind) and is the only major sport I never developed an affinity for. I don’t understand it and find it about as exciting as watching the proverbial paint dry. I do know they are great athletes possibly on a par with hockey players. I realize it’s a big deal in the Lou and happy the city got a team and that the P-D is putting an experienced /knowledgeable reporter on its Beat. You will do very well!!
    Thank you very much. I will say that:
    1. Soccer is an extremely simple game with very few rules. The soccer rulebook is very short compared to every other sport.
    2. Offside takes some getting used to.
    3. Atmosphere matters. If you watched kids play soccer and that was your exposure, you'd wonder what the deal was. Walk into Azteca Stadium in Mexico City with 100,000 fans on hand, or into CityPark on Market Street with 22,500 fans, and you'll come away impressed.
    4. It's perfectly all right not to like soccer. 
    why would you want a do over on the ROR TRADE. It brought us the CUP
    Buffalo might want to do-over. They panicked on trading O'Reilly.
    Hi Tom. Thanks gor your hatd work covering the Blues and good luck covering City. One question about World Cup. I thought it was a big letdown to have the knockout rounds and championship to be decided by PKs. I know there is skill and strategy involved, but it goes against the concept of a team game. Thoughts?
    You always want to see the game decided in the run of play. That's how it should be. I was really hoping for that on Sunday. In the pre-television days at the World Cup, if there was a tie in an elimination round, they would come back the next day and play the game again. That obviously doesn't work nowadays. Penalty kicks, which do have some element of skill and are something that actually happens in games, though not that often, are the best solution to a bad situation. The worldwide soccer schedule is so crowded now that these players are pushed to the brink physically, and having them play another 30 minutes, and on, is just going to end with players being dragged off the field. Until someone comes up with a better idea -- and no one has -- that's going to be what we're stuck with.
    Tom - at the Calgary Saddledome, did you have to walk the sky bridge around the scoreboard to get to the press box (as the Blues showed in a video) or was that just for the broadcast booth? It would seem like an extremely long hike to get to a washroom when nature calls.
  • All media in Calgary have to walk over one catwalk to get to the gondola, from which you look pretty much straight down on the ice, and then the broadcast crews have to go across a second catwalk to get to their positions on the other side. (They're on the west, writers are on the east.) That video began pretty much at where I turned off to go to my seat. (I know that because I was there when they shot it.) As LBJ said, never pass up a free lunch of a chance to go to the men's room.
    I don't really have a problem with the catwalk. There's a similar catwalk in San Jose, which has such a small press box that they sometimes seat media on it during postseason games. I've walked around up there frequently after deadline in San Jose. Kind of fun being up there with the giant sharkhead the players skate on to the ice through 
    Soccer closely have you been following the MLS overall, and to that degree, what would be your realistic expectations for Stl City SC during their upcoming inaugural year? Their roster seems to be fairly set. I believe having a .500 record is realistic, and then my expections and hopes for their second year will go up. Numerous expansion teams have done really well in their 2nd years (Atlanta, Austin, etc...:). Also, are there any plans for a soccer chat? Would love that!!! (Your coverage has been great so far. Thanks!!!)
    I've followed MLS more than most but not as much as others. I find it really hard to say how well this team will do because it's a bunch of guys from different places playing together for the first time against a totally different collection of players. I have trouble knowing how well pants and a shirt will look together until I put them on, so it's really hard for me to say these guys can do well. Some of them have a pedigree and could be pretty good, but it's so many different pieces having to come together. Some of them played together and looked not bad last season with City2, but it wasn't all of them and it was the preseason for those guys. So maybe they can do well this season. It will be fun to find out, and there is a solid history in MLS for expansion teams being winning teams very quickly. So it's quite possible.
    To Arnold regarding not having an "affinity" for soccer....I was the same way. When Kroenke and the NFL said that STL would not support a 3rd major league franchise, I decided to start following soccer. I AM HOOKED! The World Cup, which just ended, was absolutely amazing...better than the Olympics. I am blessed to be a Stl City SC season ticket holder and can't wait. I suggest you just give it a try. You won't be disappointed, although as Tom's not a sin to not follow soccer. Tom, do you agree?
    I think it's the game Othello that said on the box "A minute to learn, a lifetime to master." It doesn't take long to learn soccer, and you don't have to speak with an English accent and say words like pitch and kit and nil. I had a friend who was a longtime soccer writer who said he hated to write about strategy. "The final score was 1-0! How much strategy could there be?" But you can also feel it in the stadium when something special is happening. 
    But I'm not going to force it on anybody. But it's certainly worth a try. 
    Oh, and I'm sure if the soccer chat has to wait for the SLU chat. Right now, the chat calendar is full. But I'm sure we'll figure out someway to interact. I mean, I'm going to miss this.
    Tom - thank you for your years of Blues coverage and best wishes on your new StL City beat. I have truly enjoyed your writing style and word play. (And how many of today’s readers know who LBJ was without using the google?) Have a very merry Christmas and may your new year not be hobbled by keyboard GMs or never ending comments on Detroit goalies.
    Thanks. I hope my references aren't too dated. I also expect there are fewer armchair MLS GMs out there. I'm hoping there's avid readership out there. Training camp is just a few weeks away.
    Is Garry Unger in the hockey national hall of fame? Whether he is or not, is their a veterans committee like baseball for star players who fall short when initially eligible for consideration?
    Do you mean the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto? If so, no. Hockey Hall of Fame voting is done by a small selection committee and they pick people in either the Player or Builder category. They don't separate players by how long they've been retired.
    OK, I've answered all the questions, both soccer and hockey, and it's time for me to move on to the MLS draft. I believe Jim is here next week and I'm not sure after that, as Matt, The New Guy, will be starting then. I'm sure we won't throw him into the chat the very first week, and I don't know how much Tom/Matt overlap there will be in that first week before soccer camp starts up.
    Thanks as always and the latest edition of Net Front Presence, recorded just before his chat began, is online now. Don't miss it. 
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