St. Louis Blues April 12, 2019: Thoughts From The Common Fan

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - APRIL 10: Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the St. Louis Blues congratulates goaltender Jordan Binnington #50 after defeating the Winnipeg Jets in Game One of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell MTS Place on April 10, 2019 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead/Getty Images)
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - APRIL 10: Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the St. Louis Blues congratulates goaltender Jordan Binnington #50 after defeating the Winnipeg Jets in Game One of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell MTS Place on April 10, 2019 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues have put themselves in a good position to pick up a series win in the opener to the 2019 NHL Playoffs. It is all about how they finish now.

The St. Louis Blues find themselves up one game to none in a best of seven series against the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round of the NHL Playoffs. One win, however, does not a series winner make…yet anyway.

There are only so many ways and so many times we can say that the Blues have to expect a fight from Winnipeg coming in Game 2. Maybe the Blues win and maybe they do not, but they simply cannot pull a Blues move and think the battle is won and the Jets will just let them stroll on down to the next round.

Even in the franchise’s best years, such as 2015, we saw that happen. By the time St. Louis got to San Jose in the Western Conference Finals, they had no gas because they played too many games – needless games – against Chicago and Dallas in the first two rounds.

Even after the Blues win in the series opener, most people think this will still go six or seven games. If the Blues find themselves up, they need to close, by whatever means necessary.


For a guy that has not been in the league very long, Jordan Binnington is piling up the nicknames. He’s got BinnNasty, which is essentially his Twitter handle. Of course Winnington made the social media circles a little hot and bothered, though I found it a little sickening how quickly that one came about, but that’s just me.

We might need to call him BinnIcy now because the guy has ice in his veins. As ESPN pointed out, Binnington had every excuse given to him to crumble in Game 1 and he did not.

Binnington got run into – that’s putting it politely – and he did not get flustered. As I pointed out yesterday, I thought that was classless move, but I’m a Blues fan. What else am I going to think about it.

The bottom line is that many guys, even some pros and especially you and me, would get rattled by getting hit. I do not mean we would shrink from the occasion, but you get angry and unfocused. Maybe you start watching Mark Schiefle, looking for a good opportunity to chop the back of his legs, and you miss a key pass.

Binnington was not having that. I am sure he was not pleased with getting hit, but he focused on the game instead of the incident.

Regardless of how I feel about the overall goalie situation and how fans have treated Jake Allen, I have to say I am really impressed with Binnington. He got hit, allowed the first goal of the game and still managed to hold down the fort.

The Blues will hopefully not rely on him quite as much the entire series. I have a positive feeling about him if they do, though.

Blues Can Be Better

One of the bigger understatements coming out of Game 1 was the Blues need to be better. That statement is true across the board, but it is especially true for the team’s power play.

The Blues went 0 for 3 on the man advantage. What is worse is they only mustered two shots.

Winnipeg actually had the better scoring chances on the Blues power play. St. Louis allowed a few breakouts and a two-on-one break that Binnington had to come up with a good save on.

“Just more directness (is needed),” Berube said in the Post-Dispatch. “We didn’t shoot. Well, a couple shots. We missed the net a couple of times. It wasn’t direct enough. It has been over the last month, but I thought we got away from what we had been doing. We can attack more and be more direct with it.”

I’m not sure how direct the Blues have been over the last month, but what else is a coach going to say? From my point of view, the Blues seem to have scored just enough to keep their percentage decent, but when they were bad they were always bad.

In the playoffs, you cannot have that. I realize it is kind of late to expect them to be different, but you need those goals that kept your percentage up and, at least, to not look bad on the other ones. If you cannot get two or three shots per power play, not per game, then you are doing something wrong.

Berube Brings The Fire

Whether you loved them, hated them or fell somewhere in between, there was a certain emotional coldness to both Ken Hitchcock and Mike Yeo, the Blues last two coaches. While there is a great deal of calm on the bench with Craig Berube, we all know there is a fire burning inside.

Those of us that saw him play know that you can’t ever take the fight out of a player like that, even if he mellows with age. Berube has that passion even now.

You don’t see him screaming and yelling like John Tortorella (thank goodness for small favors). You know that he is not letting anyone get away with anything. That might include officials.

As pointed out in a Post-Dispatch column, Berube was not happy at all after the Game 1 win. Clearly he was not upset with the win or his team – he would have kept that in the locker room.

We do not know exactly why he was mad, but it showed the fact that you don’t want to see him when he is angry.

Also, it showed what the Blues might see in the locker room if/when they slack off. The difference between someone like Berube and Tortarella is the players knowing it is coming from a good place as opposed to just screaming in frustration.

“We know he’s got our back,” Pietrangelo said in the Post. Later he would add, “He’d probably take us all on if we put it on when he’s in the room,” referring to a certain YouTube video of Berube’s best fights making the rounds in the team locker room.

That kind of stuff is what gives me hope about this team’s chances the most. Like the 2015 squad, we are hearing all sorts of stuff about how united the locker room is. Beyond just talent, that is what you need to win titles. You need a unit of guys all pulling for the other.

There are divisions in that room. We have heard as much. However, when you slip on that sweater, you are all playing for the same team and are united in the same goal.

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Berube is a huge part of making that happen. I do not think Mike Yeo is a bad coach in the overall sense, but he had no grip on this locker room after those initial few months. Berube rules with his granite fists, but keeps the grip loose enough that players feel some freedom. That’s the best situation.