The St. Louis Blues saga with goaltending and the fans never seems to end. Blues fans proved how low they can sink in their desperation after one good game.
Ah, social media – what a cesspool it can be. While it is entertaining, there are times it is insanely frustrating.
That was basically the case as the Blues defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 on January 7. In the process, the goaltending starved masses showed their unquenchable thirst.
In the process of getting his first career shutout in his first career NHL start, Jordan Binnington suddenly became the anointed one for many. There were plenty of fans out there that were being funny or tongue-in-cheek, but make no mistake, there were a LOT who were deathly serious.
What was most concerning was the earliness of this shift. There were many who were declaring Binnington should be the starter halfway through the second period.
So, not only had the shutout not been completed, but Binnington had not even finished two full periods of play. That fact is mind boggling to me.
Regardless of where you fall on the Jake Allen spectrum, to hand the reigns over to an unproven minor leaguer is foolish at best. It also puts those of us against the idea in the poor position of having to argue against a person after their biggest career moment to date.
Instead of everyone being able to celebrate Binnington’s journey and relishing his success, we are forced to be the sober person in a room full of drunks. It’s not a pleasant place to be.
It must be said that almost nobody arguing against Binnington is against Binnington himself. If he got a shot and proved us all wrong, so be it. I, like all Blues fans, want to win and if it is not with the goaltender I support, so be it. I have already been through that personally with Jaroslav Halak.
However, this weird notion that Binnington looks so much better is just beyond rational thinking. Frankly, it shows how short memory spans are.
When Allen debuted with the Blues, the comments were coming fast and furious about how calm he looked in the net. Basically, all the positives hurled at Binnington on this night were the same things said about Allen on that night. He was composed, made some great saves and looked like a goalie on the verge.
While I still maintain, and will until he wins or is gone, that Allen is a viable NHL starter, that has not completely proven to be true. Even those of us that support him will acknowledge that Allen can get rattled, tends to float around too much and gets caught too deep in his net.
That is why we cannot judge Binnington so positively after one good performance. It was one game and one game against one of the worst teams in the NHL currently.
Like the Blues, Philadelphia has a lot of potential, but it has gone nowhere in 2018-19. So, making 25 saves, with only a handful being all that difficult is not as insanely impressive as Twitter made it out to be.
It’s not as though the Blues have not had similar things happen before either. The last rookie to get a shutout in their first NHL start for St. Louis was Rich Parent. In case you missed it, his NHL career did not amount to much.
Interestingly, his career unfolded prior to that night similarly to Binnington’s. He was a solid, dependable AHL goalie who clearly made the most of his first start with the Blues. Parent only went on to win six more games in his entire career.
I just do not get this mentality where we are always looking for the person to come off the bench and be the guy. It makes for good movies and great stories, but it rarely happens. It definitely does not work out well for St. Louis.
The last time we tried this, we ran Kurt Warner out of town because we were all convinced Marc Bulger was the heir apparent. It’s not a complete apples to apples comparison and Allen is no Warner, but it’s just the idea of always thinking the backup can carry the load.
We all like to think we know best, but there are people that get paid to make these decisions and whether we agree with them or not, they do it far better than we could.
Nothing against Binnington personally and hopefully he shoves this back in my face. However, every scout, pundit and analyst has said that he is likely to be a career AHL starter and could be an NHL backup. So, if he is capable of being the Blues backup, so be it.
He is not the starter and will not be the starter. Stop trying to turn one good game into the next great hope.
We have been through this before. Brent Johnson went from a good backup to the starting role and crumbled. Many thought Jamie McLennan might be able to transition from a hot streak to a starter and that fizzled.
Fans old enough will remember there were plenty on Jon Casey‘s train when he got hot. Casey cost the Blues the game against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 by waving his blocker at a neutral zone shot.
Going to the backup because they are hot only lasts so much. Hate Allen if you want, as so many do, but the stats say he’s been one of the top five goalies since mid-November. People conveniently ignore that for their own narrative. Even when he plays well, it’s always well he needs to do more. Forget that he kept this pathetic team in so many games, let’s use an AHL goalie as our starter from here on out. Makes complete sense.
The goaltending issue has been a hot-button topic in St. Louis for years, if not decades. It might have hit a new peak, or low depending on your point of view, with Binnington’s shutout.
Nobody should want to get into these garbage goaltending debates, because none of us win. Here we are, nevertheless. Personally, I will trust the scouts that have basically said he is likely an AHL starter and an NHL backup at best.
This is not rain on his parade as some will say. It is reality that this was likely a blip.
Credit to the kid. I hope he does well. But, this was just one game. Let’s keep things in perspective and realistic.