Jordan Binnington pulled off a St. Louis Blues miracle in the 2018-19 season, carrying the team from 31st place in the NHL standings at New Year to a Stanley Cup championship win just a few months later. Fast forward to 2021, the Blues are riding a hot streak in a tight playoff race with the Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. Outscoring its opponents 18-8 over the past four games (3-1-0), St. Louis is rebounding from a seven-game winless streak that, at the time, appeared to be the end of the Blues’ postseason hopes. That’s until Binnington did what he does best: came through when it counted the most.
After being called out by head coach Craig Berube for losing his swagger, the 2019 Stanley Cup champion goaltender turned aside 50 of 51 shots against the Vegas Golden Knights en route to a 3-1 victory, ending St. Louis’ slump and sparking their latest run. With just 14 games remaining in the regular-season, all eyes are on Binnington to lead his team back to the playoffs. If you’re wondering whether or not the 27-year-old netminder believes the Blues are capable of accomplishing the feat, he had this to say after his dominant performance against the Golden Knights last Wednesday: “We’re coming.”
Binnington has recorded save percentages of .960% or higher in two of his past three starts, and although he struggled in St. Louis’ most recent match against the Colorado Avalanche, allowing four goals on 32 shots, it appears the swagger and mindset he is so well-known for (see: “Do I look nervous?”) is back.
It is likely to be a tightly-contested battle between the Blues, Coyotes, Kings and Sharks all the way till the end of the season, so if St. Louis wants to come out on top, the entire team needs to buy in and rally around its goaltender. The final stretch of the West Division playoff race begins now. If Binnington keeps his win-at-all-costs attitude intact, he may be able to save yet another Blues season in doubt. It won’t be easy, but the Blues have a history of achieving the unexpected when No. 50 is in net.
St. Louis’ next game is scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. CT against Arizona, who sit one point back of the Blues for fourth place in the West. Binnington is likely to start after having two days’ rest, so it will be interesting to see how he and the team perform in such a crucial matchup following a tough 4-3 loss to the Avalanche on Wednesday. It’s time to see if Binnington and the Blues are for real.