The St. Louis Blues have plenty of issues they need to iron out on the ice. While they are currently only four games in, their inconsistencies are somewhat alarming.
During any season, a team is going to have ups and downs. Fans love to say players just have to be better, myself included, or that the coaching staff needs to yell and scream and threaten jobs, etc.
The truth is, regardless of the money they make, these guys are human. If a player gets into a funk, it’s not as simple as playing harder or putting more effort in to get out of it.
That said, there is little doubt that the players are happy with their own efforts. How they get out of it as individuals is up to them.
The main issue is that all actions, both positive and negative, have reactions or consequences. The consequence of the Blues inability to string together wins in the early part of the season could be an abundance of work load for Jordan Binnington.
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2-1-1 is not a bad record to start any season. The Blues have points in three of their first four games.
Take away the point scenario and the Blues have won two games and lost two games. That makes the record less palatable and more problematic for each additional series.
It was important to get a point in the second game against the San Jose Sharks. However, in a shortened season, each win has extra importance because it makes a big difference in ways we cannot expect.
From the goaltending point of view, one extra win could have made all the difference in how you set things up for a weekend series against the Los Angeles Kings. With the Blues essentially at .500, they have to treat things differently.
For example, if the Blues came in at 3-1, they have the luxury of picking and choosing who starts in goal. It seems likely, though not a given, the Blues will give Ville Husso his first career start at some point this weekend since the Blues face the Kings back-to-back.
If the Blues were 3-1, you could start Husso in the Saturday game to give Binnington a rest and have him mop things up come Sunday, regardless of the result. That’s probably not going to happen now.
Unless Craig Berube throws a curveball, he’s going to ride his horse. Binnington will likely start the first game because the Blues cannot take the risk of falling below .500 this early in the season.
Suddenly things become dire rather quickly. If the Blues lose Friday, Berube might even be forced to play Binnington again simply to give his team the best chance at winning.
At that point, it does not become so much about confidence in Husso, but simply needing to put your best player out there that has the best chance at winning. That’s a lot of pressure and a lot of work.
Even past this initial five games, this will become a problem if St. Louis keeps splitting these series. The Blues have eight back-to-back series after they are done with the Kings.
Binnington is still young, but still has not had to go through an entire NHL season just yet. He played his most games of his career in 2019-20 and we saw the effects of the Blues overexposing him at times.
Binnington has been the team’s best player in just about every game they’ve had thus far. Even the embarrassing loss to Colorado, he managed to keep the Blues in the game far longer than they had any business being.
The team needs wins, so Binnington will play. The counterpoint to that is they cannot run him into the ground in the first 10 games just because the team can’t get their legs under them.
It’s a thin line that Berube has to walk and nobody should envy his position. The Blues eventually have to start Husso, but the team needs to help out and give the staff a scenario where there is wiggle room.
The Blues becoming more consistent and stacking a few wins together helps everyone, including Binnington. No goalie will ever say they want out of the net, but reality is that the body can only take so much.
Grant Fuhr was the exception to that for the Blues, but this is not the 1990’s. The game is faster and the opponents come at you in waves.
St. Louis needs Binnington to be fresh come playoff time. The team needs to get their act together so they do not have to play him every night this early.