Blues News & Rumors: Hitchcock, Binnington & More

The St. Louis Blues began and ended their week on a high note. However, it was what happened in the middle that caused concern for many fans. Here’s a look at the latest news and rumors surrounding the club.

St. Louis Blues News and Rumours
St. Louis Blues News and Rumours (The Hockey Writers)

The Week That Was

Blues vs Lightning

The Blues kicked off the week not only with a win but a decisive 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to conclude their homestand. After a dominant 8-2 performance against a Central Division opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, they continued firing on all cylinders against one of the best teams in the NHL. With a 30-save shutout performance by goaltender Jordan Binnington, it was all St. Louis for 60 minutes.

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“It’s a team that you’re proud to be a part of,” Binnington said. “It’s a month or two of working hard and buying in. It’s nice to see some results come our way. We’re just staying patient and playing together and trusting the system, and we’re getting rewarded.”‘

Jordan Binnington St. Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Blues took an early 1-0 lead thanks to a shot by defenseman Colton Parayko 11:09 into the game. The Lightning held the Blues to a one-goal lead until late in the second period where the Blues scored twice in 19 seconds thanks to goals from Jordan Kyrou at 16:17 and Jakub Vrana to take a 3-0 lead into the third period. Binnington continued holding off all attempts through the remainder of the game while Kasperi Kapanen made it 4-0 on an empty-net goal at the 16:02 mark, and Kyrou scored his second of the game with 42 seconds remaining. The victory was the club’s fifth in their last six games.

Blues vs Sharks

Beginning their West Coast road trip, the Blues faced the last-place San Jose Sharks for the first time this season. The Sharks struck first only 2:02 into the game as former Blue Mike Hoffman scored on a wrist shot past goaltender Joel Hofer to take an early lead in the game. It was all San Jose until the Blues were able to muster their first shot of the game just over the halfway mark of the first period.

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Despite weathering the first-period onslaught, the Blues were unable to start the second period on a positive note as forward William Eklund scored only 17 seconds into the middle frame to take a 2-0 lead. San Jose continued to press offensively and was rewarded as Givani Smith extended their lead to 3-0 at the 2:39 mark. St. Louis native Luke Kunin added to his club’s lead making it 4-0 on a wrist shot past Hofer 3:25 into the second period, who was relieved of his goaltending duties promptly after.

Hoffman scored his second goal of the evening and third of the season past former teammate Binnington at 13:25 on a breakaway. The Blues were able to strike back in the third period thanks to a wrist shot goal at 13:55 by Pavel Buchnevich. Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen posted 40-plus saves for the third time in his career.

Blues vs Kings

Continuing their road trip, the Blues found no luck as they hoped to bounce back against the Los Angeles Kings. After defenseman Nick Leddy took an early interference penalty only 36 seconds into the game, the Kings seized their opportunity in the dying seconds of the powerplay as forward Quinton Byfield scored 2:25 into the game. The Kings did not slow down after Brayden Schenn turned the puck over to Blake Lizotte in his own zone and beat Binnington on a wrist shot to take a 2-0 lead.

Nick Leddy St. Louis Blues
Nick Leddy, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Just over 10 minutes later, forward Adrian Kempe put the Kings up 3-0 at 13:37 on a backhanded short-handed breakaway goal. Los Angeles added one more goal before the end of the first period as Pierre-Luc Dubois made it 4-0 at 15:20 on a one-timer from the right circle by Arthur Kaliyev.

Kings forward Kevin Fiala extended the lead to 5-0 at 19:36 of the second period on a wrist shot from the left circle providing the only goal of the middle frame. Blues forward Jake Neighbours scored on a wrist shot from the left circle at 16:06 of the third period for the 5-1 final. Blues defenseman Torey Krug was a minus-3 for the game while Binnington stopped 24 of 27 shots on goal.

Blues vs Ducks

The Blues and goaltender Hofer found themselves in the win column once more after making 30 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. The club received goals from forwards Jake Neighbours, Pavel Buchnevich, and Alexy Toropchenko ending a two-game losing streak where they were outscored 10-2. After an overturned goal by the Ducks 8:19 into the first period, the Blues struck first 1:06 later thanks to an intercepted pass from Ducks forward Alex Killorn by Oskar Sundqvist who passed to Neighbours for a one-timer goal at 9:25.

Though the Blues’ power play went 1-6 on the night, they capitalized on a first-period power play goal by Buchnevich at 16:34 to take a 2-0 lead. St. Louis’ penalty-killing unit held strong throughout the game through two power play attempts by the Ducks, including a two-man advantage for 41 seconds beginning at 18:11 of the first period. The Blues extended their lead to 3-0 at 5:39 of the second. Kevin Hayes centered a pass off the skate of teammate Justin Faulk and the carom went to Toropchenko, who spun and shot the puck into the net from in front of the crease. The Ducks prevented the shutout thanks to a second-period goal at 8:47 by Mason McTavish.

Here’s a look at where the Blues rank statistically among the rest of the NHL:

  • Team Record: 9-7-1 (4th in division, 7th in conference)
  • Goals Scored: 46 (28th in NHL) (Last week 27th)
  • Goals Against: 46 (9th in NHL) (Last week: 7th)
  • Power Play: 7.7% (31st) (Last Week: 7.7%, 31st)
  • Penalty Kill: 76.7% (22nd) (Last Week: 75%, 23rd)
  • Faceoff (%): 49.6% (22nd) (Last week: 48.4%, 23rd)

Hitchcock, Turgeon Inducted Into Hockey Hall of Fame

Former Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock and forward Pierre Turgeon were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, Nov 13. To date, only 26 members of the Blues (23 players and three coaches) have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Blues made the playoffs in each of Hitchcock’s six years as coach, including a trip to the Western Conference Final in 2017. He won 248 games behind the Blues’ bench, the second-most of any coach in franchise history. He also had additional stints with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. His 849 career wins are the fourth-most in NHL history, and he’s one of seven people to have coached at least 1,500 games.

RELATED: Revisiting Pierre Turgeon’s Hockey Hall of Fame Career

Turgeon scored 20-plus goals in 13 of his 19 NHL seasons, including every season wearing the Blue Note. He scored at least 65 points in each of those five years, including a 30-goal, 52-assist campaign in 2000-01.

Turgeon, the first overall pick in the 1987 NHL Draft, spent the first nine years of his career with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. In that time, he appeared in four All-Star Games and was awarded the 1992-93 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as an Islander.

Turgeon was traded to the Blues from Montreal in 1996. For the next five seasons, he finished with either the most or second-most points on Blues squads that featured legends like Brett Hull, Chris Pronger, Al MacInnis, Pavol Demitra, and Grant Fuhr. Turgeon’s teams made the playoffs every year, including a trip to the Western Conference Final in 2000-01.

Binnington Tied for Fifth All-Time in Shutouts in Blues Franchise History

Binnington just continues working his way up the Blues record books. After a 30-save performance against the Lightning, he is now tied for fifth-all-time in shutouts with the club. His 13th career shutout tied him with former Blue Roman Turek. Only Brian Elliott (25), Jake Allen (21), Jaroslav Halak (20), and Glenn Hall (16) have more in a Blues uniform.

The Blues will be off until Wednesday (Nov. 22) at 8 pm CST when they play the Arizona Coyotes before heading home to face the Nashville Predators on Friday (Nov. 24) at 2 pm CST.