The St. Louis Blues have a goaltending issue right now against the Vancouver Canucks. That does not automatically mean they have a controversy.
No matter which St. Louis Blues goaltender you support now, in the past or in the future, there is little doubt that Jordan Binnington is struggling against the Vancouver Canucks. Why is anybody’s guess, but he is.
Maybe he got shell shocked in the round-robin games. Binnington was playing lights out in most of those games, but he was getting no help.
Now that the playoffs have actually begun, his help is only slightly better – still not good enough – and he no longer has that cool, calm swagger that became his trademark last year. Again, nobody can say why, but you can see it.
Binnington looks agitated at times. He seems uneasy and started looking for pucks behind him, which is something he has rarely done in his Blues career.
Normally, he is confident he got the puck and his teammates will warn him if he did not. Instead, now he feels like pucks are leaking through. The pucks are leaking through.
As fans, we can argue the chicken and the egg scenario all we want. We’ve done it with countless goaltenders before Binnington.
The Blues should not be giving up breakaways. They should not be allowing one man to stickhandle past three players.
All of that is true. However, just like some fans refused to use those as excuses for past goaltenders, the Blues cannot use them as excuses now. Binnington needed to make saves on quite a few of the shots he has let slip through.
He had two soft goals in Game 1. The overtime winner in Game 2 was soft as well and you could argue one of the other breakaways should have been stopped.
The Blues won the 2019 Stanley Cup on the back of Jordan Binnington. Nobody will take that away, but that does not mean he is beyond criticism from now until eternity.
The St. Louis Blues should start Jake Allen in the next game. Allen was just as sharp as Binnington in his round-robin game, so you cannot argue the Blues would be losing anything.
Yet, this is not just about goaltending. You need to send a message to the team that they are not doing enough to support Binnington and the switch is on them as much as anyone.
Teams do it all the time during games and, every so often, it can spark a comeback. Why not try it during a playoff series where nothing is quite clicking anyway?
It isn’t as though Allen’s numbers are stellar against Vancouver. He’s 7-5-2 in 14 appearances with a 2.70 goals against. Not terrible, but this is more about a change of pace.
Even if the Blues make the switch, it does not have to be forever. In fact, I am only arguing for one game – Game 3.
Though Craig Berube never clearly stated as a matter of fact that Jake Allen would play in this series, he basically did. Prior to the series start, he was asked if he might play both goalies since Game 3 and Game 4 are on back-to-back nights.
He gave the coach-speak answer about having confidence in both guys, etc. He basically said Allen would get a game.
Those that knew that, such as myself and even some others, would have assumed that would be the second game of the back-to-back. That would have been Monday’s Game 4.
That made sense if the Blues had won a game in this series or even if they were up 2-1 after Game 3. Now, they need to alter plans.
If you start Allen in Game 3, you have options. You can say it was just a change of pace and a tone setter and go right back to Binnington in Game 4, win or lose.
If you win, you then have the option to start Allen again without the pressure of every game being a do-or-die, should you wait until Game 4. If you lose, then you can switch right back to Binnington and nobody would bat an eye.
This would not be a forever change. Even as a fan of The Snake, I would not say he is the answer to all the team’s problems.
In fact, I do not believe goaltending is the team’s biggest issue. It is simply the easiest thing to change.
If Allen was always going to get a game, try Game 3 and see how it works. A win gives you options, while not being tied to Allen.
A loss is a loss, no matter who was in there. However, if you wait until Game 4 to switch and are down 3-0 in the series and Allen wins, it becomes harder to go back to Binnington in this series.
Nobody wants to become the Pittsburgh Penguins, where they win Cups but always think the next goaltender is much better. I’d rather the Blues stick with Binnington for the long term, but for the next game, let’s see Jake the Snake Allen.