Blues Weekly: Losing Streak, Binnington, Bitten, & More

The St. Louis Blues had a rough week, to say the least. They didn’t play well in most contests and looked lifeless against legitimate contenders.

St. Louis Blues Weekly Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou
Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou (The Hockey Writers)

St. Louis has looked out of sorts this season, and, at this point, the players and coaches have to be blamed for these issues. While I don’t think head coach Craig Berube should be in the hot seat, there needs to be a conversation. I’m not seeing enough adjustments to fix the team, although it could be too late.

Blues Lose 3 Straight

The Blues have now lost three straight games and five of six after an embarrassing loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. They improved their record to 10-8-0 but have since gone on another skid to drop it to 11-13-0. A lot went wrong for the Blues last week. Even though had a rough schedule, there is no excuse for how they played. They might not have laid an egg against lesser opponents, but at the end of the day, their record and performance are not acceptable.

Against the Dallas Stars last Monday, the Blues looked sluggish and tired after a thrilling win over the Florida Panthers two days prior. The Stars are a terrific team, but the Blues let them skate all over them. As for the loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 1, it was a prime example of the disastrous state of the team’s defense. After grabbing a 2-0 lead, they allowed three goals in just over a minute.

Latest News & Highlights

It’s now December, which means their season is in doubt. The team is far too streaky to stay in the playoff hunt, and they are trending downward with another difficult schedule this month. All of this means that players like Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly could be on the move before the deadline if the Blues are forced to become sellers. If general manager Doug Armstrong believes his team has a chance at a deep playoff run, I don’t know what he’s thinking. The defense is far too weak to keep up with the league’s best teams, and this has to be blamed on the players, coaches, and front office.

Bitten Makes NHL Debut in Pittsburgh

Despite the loss to the Penguins, it was an exciting night for Will Bitten, who his NHL debut after scoring eight goals through 20 games for the Springfield Thunderbirds in the American Hockey League (AHL). He was put on the Noel Acciari line alongside Nathan Walker. He didn’t do much in less than seven minutes of ice time, with a fairly empty box score, but that’s to be expected with limited ice time. He made three hits, one takeaway, and one giveaway. Outside of that, it was a whole bunch of nothing.

Related: St. Louis Blues Grades at the Quarter Mark

I’m not sure if he’ll crack the lineup again during this stint with the club, especially when Jordan Kyrou returns to the lineup after being ill enough to miss the Penguins game. Bitten was a third-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 2016. He’s been terrific in the AHL in the last two seasons with the Thunderbirds and seems like a player who will have a terrific AHL career with some stints in the NHL. Either way, it was a great night for Bitten.

Binnington’s Antics Are Unnecessary

This might be controversial, but Jordan Binnington’s antics are unnecessary. I get that he’s a fiery personality and has a lot of confidence, but as Berube said, it’s not helping the team. He is constantly doing ridiculous things during the game, especially when he gets pulled. While it wasn’t a violent play, he unnecessarily clipped Penguins forward Jason Zucker in the face when he was trying to play the puck.

It took a long time for Berube to call him out, but he finally did after their loss in Pittsburgh. A lot of this likely has to do with how bad the Blues are and Binnington’s struggles to keep the puck out of the net. The defense in front of him has been brutal, but he isn’t blameless. His numbers are not good enough for him to be ruffling feathers, with a 9-10-0 record and a save percentage (SV%) of .895. This is now back-to-back regular seasons that he has played below average.

I get that he wants to rile up his teammates and show that he cares, but it’s not working. Every time that Binnington pulls one of these stunts, the Blues are usually on the losing end of it, just as it did in the last two playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche. It’s clear that losing has driven Berube to be harder on his players when he speaks with the media, but the antics have to stop.

Blues’ Week Ahead

  • Monday: at New York Rangers (11-10-5, 27 points), 6 PM
  • Tuesday: at New York Islanders (16-10-0, 30 points), 6:30 PM
  • Thursday: vs. Winnipeg Jets (15-7-1, 31 points), 7 PM
  • Sunday: vs. Colorado Avalanche (13-8-1, 27 points), 2 PM (ESPN)

The Blues have four games this week against three teams above the playoff line and the New York Rangers, who reached the Eastern Conference Final last season. The back-to-back in New York will be tough, as the Rangers will be pushing hard amidst a brutal stretch. They’ve also already lost to the New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets. They did beat the Avalanche on the road in their first matchup of the season, but Colorado is certainly the better team. Let’s see if the Blues can keep up with four solid teams, but my hopes aren’t up.

Sign up for our regular 'Blues Newsletter' for all the latest.