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

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

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

    Welcome back for the first of who knows how many editions of Blues playoff chat. The Blues are just off the ice in St. Paul, where the news is that Nick Leddy will be a game-time decision because of an injury. Scandella is still out, so we could be seeing both Niko Mikkola and Calle Rosen tonight. And with that, on to the questions.
    Happy Wednesday Tom. Thanks for being our eyes and ears during these playoffs.

    Any inside information on Nick Leddy? He didn't skate this morning and Chief said he is a game time decision. Any idea on the nature of the injury is and how bad it is? Don't worry, we won't say anything to the Wild fans!
    Well, it's a game-time decision so it can't be really bad. If something was broken, he'd be definitively out. He got slammed by Boldy into the boards behind the net really hard in Game 1, and his head hit the glass. That's probably the cause of it. He missed a couple shifts in the third period on Monday, though did come back at the very end of the game. We shall see.
    The Blues had 4 undisciplined penalties (Borts and Perron's stick grabs, Perron's face wash at the boards, and Faulk retaliated punch at a net front scrum). Do you see these type of penalties being called as the series progresses? Is it to the Blues advantage that multi penalties are called (usually the refs even out) seeing that the Blues are much better on the special teams?
    I think they'll be called, yes, though I also see the Blues (and Wild) doing less of it as the series goes on. The refs want to set a standard early on about what will be called and hockey players are smart enough to figure that out. The Blues are better than the Wild on the power play, so more penalties is probably a net gain for the Blues. .
    I told Ben Fred yesterday I didn't think the Blues played as well in Game 1 as the result suggested, and would need to play much better to win the series. Your thoughts?
    The game was very even. The Blues were not four goals better than the Wild other than on the scoreboard, though if you're only going to be better in one place, that's the one to choose. Minnesota had a lot of scoring chances, and even if Minnesota is not good on the power play, they aren't terrible and giving them six power plays is asking for trouble. The Blues converted on some marginal chances and the Wild didn't (or couldn't). Yes, the Blues have to play better, but that's how these things generally work. Your best playoff game is seldom the first one.
    For all the angst over Binnington isn’t the strong desire to trade him and sign/ride Husso history repeating itself? Incumbant would go hot and cold, so popular sentiment was he had to be replaced. Unproven new guy comes in and plays well (ok, in Binnington’s case, great and wins a cup), suddenly he MUST be the guy that plays.

    Binnington had a dynamite ‘19 and was doing reasonably well in ‘19-‘20. Husso really only has this year where he’s shown it at the NHL level. Neither really had a strong track record. What makes everyone think that making this move would turn out any different? Latest shiny object syndrome?
    There is zero guarantee that in two years, Husso doesn't go through the same thing Binnington is going through. It's the nature of the position. The decision to play Husso now is the obvious one. He's playing really well, and Binnington has been spotty at best. Problem is, the Blues will have to make a decision on the goalie position going forward very soon, namely in the next two months. Can they make it work under the cap to keep Binnington and Husso? Would Husso prefer to be in a place where he's the undisputed No. 1 goalie? Can the Blues move Binnington and keep just Husso even if they wanted to? Binnington has been a good goalie in his NHL career; at one point, he looked like he was going to be one of the three goalies on the Canadian Olympic team. And just as goalies unexpectedly go down, they can also unexpectedly go up as well. So Binnington is by no means done.
    The Blues' stats from Monday game were mostly terrible. What's the explanation when a team wins terrible Corsi score compared to the opposition?
    Good goaltending and bad finishing are the main reasons. Husso made saves, and while Fleury may not have been at fault in any of the Blues goals, his defense put him in the position to have trouble. The Wild had 3.8 expected goals in the game per hockeyviz.com and the Blues were at 3.4. The Blues got one more, the Wild got about four less. 
    And one stat that was good was the Blues going 6 for 6 on the penalty kill. 
    Everyone can talk about line matchups and special teams but it still boils down to Husso's outstanding play. Do you think he can make a 2019 Binnington type run where he plays almost all the games and wins 16 on the way to another cup?
    Runs like the one Binnington had are extremely rare. So the easy guess is No, he can't do it, because not many other goalies have. But they play the games for a reason and anything can happen, and if the Blues beat Minnesota, to get past Colorado, they are going to need some incredible goaltending. 
    One thing I can say is Husso is going to play all the games. If he doesn't play a game, he's either hurt or the Blues are in a deep hole and looking for a miracle, like when they turned to Allen against Vancouver in the bubble. 
    Strange Game 1. On the one hand, it really did look like the Wild were the better team at 5-on-5. The Blues didn't get nearly enough O-zone time on the cycle, and had some scrambling moments in their own end. Still, it seems a HUGE mismatch on special teams, and the Blues seem to have had the number of both Wild goalies for awhile - and will continue to so long as Perron owns Fleury. Clearly, the Blues are in their heads. Is there any way, short of back-to-back shutouts, the Wild gets the Blues out of their heads?
    Minnesota needs to win a game. Once they do that, anything is possible. 
    At 5 on 5, the Wild had 25 shots on goal to the Blues' 17. (I don't have the shot attempt numbers at my fingertips.) There was only 34 minutes of 5 on 5 hockey in the game, and Minnesota would no doubt like to see that number get a lot higher. 
    Tom - All of the PK seemed to really limit the fourth line and Tarasenko. At least they should be fresh tonight.
    Walker and Toropchenko had only a little over 7 minutes of ice time each, and in a game that was 3-0 for the entire third period, the Blues would have normally been able to roll lines more regularly. (They each actually got a minute plus of power play time in the third period.) Tarasenko came in about a minute under his regular season average time. No one really got overworked in Game 1. Faulk had about 25 minutes of ice time, but 5 minutes of it was on the power play.
    My prediction heading into this series was the Blues would win in 6 games. I think tonight's game most likely determines if this series goes 7. I know Minnesota is going to push hard, but I think having a large group of players who played in a Cup finals, who know how important it is to grab a series lead, will allow the Blues to absorb the Wild's first period punch and then counterpunch with a demoralizing second period that will give the Blues the lead and momentum heading into the third. It's playoff hockey, what happens in the third I don't have a clue. I think the edge goes to the Blues. I just don't believe in Minnesota's guts. I don't think they have enough. And I'll be honest, if this Blues team heads into the next round truly believing in themselves, I think they will have the intestinal fortitude to persevere and beat Colorado in 7, with a chance to finish it in 6 if everything goes right. What's your gut telling you about this round and if this team is up to the challenge to make the finals?
    My gut says the Blues can win this round, but beating Colorado (who I'm going to go out on a limb and say will beat Nashville), and Calgary will be very difficult. If another team gets out of the Pacific, it's obviously going to be a bit easier, but any road that goes through Denver is not going to be an easy one for the Blues. The Blues played Colorado well when they met early in the season, but that was a long time ago. 
    But again, this is why they play the games. 
    I would imagine it would be Steven Santini. Perunovich has been skating with the team and Berube said the other day that he was closer to returning that we might think. I don't think he's ready now, but if the Blues were still playing in the second round, he may be a candidate by then.
    Are Saad and Schenn now on the #1 PP w ROR, Perron and Krug? Doesn't it make sense as it keeps the ROR line together plus adding Saad who it seems should've been given more PP time all year?
    The power play combinations today will be the same as before: 
    PP1--Krug-Perron-Schenn-O'Reilly-Saad; PP2--Faulk, Tarasenko, Kyrou, Buchnevich, Thomas. (Though at this point, I'm not sure which one is really No. 1.) It seems common sense to keep the O'Reilly and the Thomas lines together in their respective units, and I've long advocated Saad on the power play over Barbashev. 
    It did seem like Minnesota was the better club 5-on-5 in Game 1, but I wonder how much of that was driven by score effects. By the time there was an extended run of 5-on-5 play, the Blues were up 2-0.
    Looking at the shot tide chart on hockeyviz.com, it looks like the Wild had the better of play at the end of the first and start of the second, which was the longest period of continuous even-strength action in the game, about 18 minutes without either team having a man advantage, which did come with the score 2-0 in favor of the Blues. The Blues didn't create much of anything in the second period until the power play that lead to Perron's goal. The third period didn't have a whole lot of 5 on 5 action. 
    I guess you could call that score effects, but I don't know that the Blues at that early stage were going into a defense only mode. Though certainly the Wild were highly incentivized to score at that point. 
    When/if Scandella returns how do you see the defensive pairs being or will they be fluid throughout the games? If Scandella is 100% would you have him w Paranko and then Leddy w Faulk, Krug w Borts?
    It does really seem in flux, and with Leddy banged up, that could also change things going forward. I think after making the deal they made to get Leddy and getting good results, the Blues are less inclined to stash him on the third pairing. I thought they would go to Leddy-Parayko, Krug-Faulk, Scandella-Bortuzzo. I don't know if there's still a concern about Krug's ice time; he got up to about 22 minutes against Vegas, but otherwise has been in the 17-18 window, well below his season average. Berube has talked a lot about having a puck mover on each pairing.
    Hi Tom. Bozak looked good, Walker was subpar in game one but has a nose for the goal, but what will it take to get Brown on the fourth line instead of Toropchenko? He has hands of stone and is heavy with the body but doesn't win puck battles. Is Berube just not a Logan fan? Thanks.
    I think it's more Berube is a Toropchenko fan. He likes him a lot, and I think if you're looking for someone who is going to be aggressive and physical on the forecheck, that's a vote for Toropchenko. I think one of the reasons to have Bozak at center on that line was that Walker and Toropchenko had very little postseason experience (Walker had one game, Toropchenko none), so there was some veteran guidance there in Bozak. If Bozak were to have some off games, or look to need a breather, I could see Brown coming in, and if they were ever in an advantageous situation in a series, maybe they try to slip him in for a game so he can get some postseason experience. Brown is also competing with Joshua now as well.
    I think we all need to appreciate what a historically great season Faulk had for a Blues Defenseman. In addition to the eye test where he was in charge when on the ice, the also had a combination of 47 points while being a +41. The only other defensemen in team history with better seasons were Pronger and MacInnis in their prime. And while its hard to compare teams and eras, no other defensemen come close. Not Petro, Jeff Brown, Barclay Plager. And Krug's season measures up favorably to the others.
    Faulk had an excellent season, especially offensively, and what he brought there well made up for any defensive troubles he had. He had an interesting collection of analytics. His offensive play at 5 on 5 went up while his defensive play at 5 on 5 went down. But on special teams, his time on the PK was better than last year, while his PP play wasn't as good. His finishing was among the best in the league. All in all, he had a really good season, and the coaches agreed, giving him about as much ice time as Parayko and the second-most on the team.
    Wild: We need to fix our special teams, and avoid penalties.

    However, they were 3rd in PIM and the Blues were 30th.
    Obviously there are wide fluctuations in the NHL from game to game, but also at this point of the season, you pretty much are what you are, so the Wild aren't suddenly going to get a lot better on the power play, unless they spot something in the scouting reports to take advantage of, or stop taking so many penalties. They just have to find ways to work around that.
    In the Wild forum at the Athletic, they are all concerned about retribution by the Blues against Spurgeon. Spurgeon is not a large person and "the maniac Schenn" will go after him. I can the guy getting hit by either Barbashev or Schenn. I don't think the Blues will go along with "the nice guy made a mistake".
    The Blues may have to hold a lottery to decide who gets to take a shot at Spurgeon, so the whole team doesn't go after him at once. But they also have to show some moderation, because going to the box and giving up a goal can be a high price to pay. So do they pick their spots, and wait till the game is decided, or does Schenn go after him at the opening faceoff and get it out of the way and let the Blues PK take care of business. In any case, it's coming. The Blues didn't have this issue with Kadri last season because his suspension kept the Blues from extracting immediate revenge.
    Have you ever heard of O'Reilly called "The Factor"? This is what an analyst said at the beginning of the game on ESPN. They also said the Wild's Spurgeon was know as the "Spurgeon General".

    Where do they come up with this stuff?
    O'Reilly has been called The Factor for many years, though it has not been used as commonly since he came to St. Louis, maybe since the show of that name is no longer on the air. From time to time, you'll hear a Blue refer to him that way, but usually he's O'Ry.
    Is there specific Blues players who are shadowing Kaprizov when he doesn't have the puck when he's on the ice? Is this type of defense only used vs the elite scorers(McDavid, Matthews, etc.)?
    Whenever possible, the Blues had Leddy and Parayko and the O'Reilly line on the ice against the Kaprizov line, though since matchups aren't as easy to control on the road, the Schenn line ended up against them just as much. Leddy or Parayko kept close contact with him throughout. The line matchups are standard, that pairing and that line usually get the other team's top offensive players, but players like Kaprizov get special attention.
    The Panthers lost game one to the Capitals.....I still maintain Florida will lose round one along with the Flames. I will add the Rangers to my list.

    Do you have any favorites to take a powder in round one?
    I think the Panthers will beat the Capitals, but I can see the Penguins beating the Rangers, though Shesterkin did everything humanly possible last night. But I don't see any massive updates, especially in the West, where Dallas and Nashville could be making very quick exits. Think Nashville wishes it played better in that third period against Arizona on the final day of the season and got Calgary instead of Colorado? (Or that their goalie was healthy?)
    Wild did seem to shut down the Thomas line with the GREEF line. Is this just a case where the other lines have to pick up the slack for Blues and do the scoring?
    That's exactly the situation, and one of the things the Blues are counting on, that no team has the defensive depth to shut down all three lines. So go ahead, devote all your efforts to the Thomas line, and either the Schenn or O'Reilly line will score. It's why it's big for the Blues that O'Reilly started scoring at the end of the season and why they need Kyrou to start scoring. If one of those lines isn't a factor, it becomes easier for the opposition to deal with the Blues.
    I forecast a strong game for the Thomas line tonight, our Russians will be highly motivated with the crosscheck to the ankles move - how pathetic. I also can see the Wild using their top line to defend against the O'Reilly line and going after Perron thereby giving Thomas and Company more breathing room. What say you?
    I think they'll continue to put the GREEF line out against the Thomas line. The Thomas line has just been too good lately to not get special treatment. The Thomas line may not get to show itself until the Blues get home and can control the matchups better.
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