After entering the fray halfway through the 2019 season, Jordan Binnington has patrolled the crease for the St. Louis Blues now through three fractured campaigns. A bit of an enigma between the pipes for the Blues, Binnington endured a longer than usual stretch in the minors. After turning pro at the start of the 2013-14 season, the 6-foot-1 goaltender played one NHL game through his first five seasons. He made up for that with a dream rookie campaign, appearing in 26 playoff contests and hoisting Lord Stanley’s mug after just 32 regular season starts.
That was enough for Binnington to be handed the reins in goal for the Blues and he has carried the load, heading to the blue paint 92 times in the past two seasons, including 40 of 56 this season. He has an overall record of 48-27-15
After an unreal 1.86 goals against average in that first regular-season stretch, the Richmond Hill, Ontario native has turned in a couple respectable seasons with a 2.56 GAA in the 2019-20 regular season and a 2.65 clip this season. His save percentage dropped slightly as well from .927 in that first regular season to .912 in 2019-20 and .910 this past season.
A sub-par 0-5 run after returning for the postseason last summer sticks out as a horrible sequel to the Cup run a year prior, and, this season, inconsistency and streaky play have been the most common characteristics this season for both Binnington and the Blues team.
Playoffs Equal New Season
Just three shortened seasons into his pro career, Binnington is set as the Blues’ go-to guy in the crease and is a member of an exclusive club of Cup-winning goaltenders. Sure, that’s beginning to be a bit of a distant memory now, but the Blues’ goaltender has done it before. Just check out the career of a goaltender like Marc-Andre Fleury with the Vegas Golden Knights and discover a goaltender that has been praised/written off/praised again numerous times in his NHL career.
Make no mistake. The Colorado Avalanche are the Presidents’ Trophy winners and are an overwhelming favorite in the opening-round series against the Blues, having finished 19 points ahead in the final Honda West Division standings. But, one thing the Avs don’t have is a goaltender who has gone the distance. They’re close, though – Philipp Grubauer has put up some dazzling numbers in goal for the Avalanche and he might have carried the load if not for an injury at a crucial point in the 2020 postseason.
The Blues have nothing to lose and they have a chance to change the way this season will be remembered. For the most part, the entire team has fallen prey to the inconsistent and uninspired portions of this past season. Some rough nights for the defensive corps in general have seen Binnington facing more rubber than NASCAR, but the flip side is also evident with losses on nights when he wasn’t particularly busy.
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Binnington has gone to the crease in six of eight games against the Avs this season came out on top in three of them, including two of the most recent three, in Colorado at the end of April. He turned aside 31 of 32 shots on April 28 in a 4-1 win for the Blues in the Rocky Mountain State.
While clearly the underdog, the Blues have shown they can battle and defeat the Avalanche. An upset could come if momentum is carried out of the earlier games in the series. The most likely source of building that momentum is some strong play between the pipes for Binnington. He’s done it before and it’s not so crazy to think he couldn’t turn his game up a notch or two.
It’s also not so crazy to think that level of play couldn’t inspire the players around him to at least give Colorado a tougher challenge than it is expecting. It will be interesting to see which version of Binnington shows up at Ball Arena on Monday night.
Closing in on 60, Jim has been a fan of hockey, since the age of five and he has finally capped it as a THW Writer on the St. Louis Blues beat. Growing up in small town Ontario, he never got far as a player, but has spent most of the past 40 years writing about the game from the youth hockey to junior hockey and now, pro levels. A move to the Midwest (Wisconsin) in 2000 shifted the focus a bit. Working at small newspapers, Jim relished a chance to focus on hockey alone and has dabbled in that with a pair of websites, midwesthockey.info and saukhockey.info.