This offseason, the St. Louis Blues made one decision that puzzled many fans and analysts. Coming off a campaign where starting goaltender Jordan Binnington lost his job to backup Ville Husso — who then departed for the Detroit Red Wings when he became too expensive to keep as an unrestricted free agent (UFA) — the Blues signed 36-year-old veteran Thomas Greiss to be the new backup. The decision seemed to make no sense at the time, as the team had clearly needed both goaltenders during the 2021-22 campaign. Could the franchise really afford to scrimp in net? The front office gambled that they could, betting big on a return to form from Binnington, who had a terrific, albeit brief, playoff run. And through three games this season, the gamble is paying off handsomely for general manager Doug Armstrong.
Binnington’s Hot Start
The Blues were the last team to play their first game, waiting until Saturday, October 15 to play the Columbus Blue Jackets. Binnington got the opening night start and immediately delivered for his team. It wasn’t his toughest test, but he was up to the challenge, stopping 23 of 25 shots, leading the Blues to an opening-night victory.
In their second game, Binnington managed 32 saves on 35 shots in his toughest test yet against the Seattle Kraken. One of those saves is an early save-of-the-year candidate, as Binnington stretched across his crease to stop a shot from Seattle’s Carson Soucy. Goaltending was the x-factor that kept the Blues in the game long enough to stretch it to overtime and get the win. But Binnington would save his best performance for contest number three.
A Shutout in Edmonton
Blues fans are all too familiar with weekend matinees, and whether it’s reality or urban legend, they seem not to work out in the team’s favor too often. Especially after a poor performance in Seattle, many fans viewed yesterday’s matchup with apprehension. It takes a lot to contain the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, especially on home ice. A strong performance would truly prove that 2021-22 Binnington is a thing of the past.
Of course, the Oilers brought the fight to the Blues, although it wasn’t the offensive explosion some expected. They managed just 23 shots in total, one more than St. Louis, but Binnington stood tall. He stopped all 23 shots for the 11th shutout of his career, leading the Blues to a 2-0 victory. All told, so far, he has a .940 save percentage (SV%), a 1.6 goals-against average (GAA), and looks far more like the goalie that helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup than the goaltender that lost his job last season.
Binnington Has a Lot of Work Ahead of Him
The Blues have had a syncopated start to the season, with big breaks between each of their games. They are finally starting to get into a rhythm. Binnington has had plenty of time to rest between games. Greiss probably will not see his first action until one-half of the back-to-back against the Oilers on Wednesday and the Nashville Predators on Thursday. And if Binnington continues to play like this, Greiss won’t see much action outside of back-to-backs and occasional busy stretches. The Blues gambled on their goaltending tandem. But so far, that gamble has paid off.
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Stephen Ground is a veteran of over three years at THW, focusing on the St. Louis Blues, NHL goaltending, and the annual World Junior Championship. He is the co-host of the Two Guys One Cup Podcast, a hockey podcast focused on the Blues.