Personally, I feel like the Blues have the better defensive corps but there are arguments to be had there. If you compare player to player, it might be tighter than one would expect.
On top of that, the Avs have really done a fantastic job defensively this season. Perhaps some of that credit goes to how much they have the puck, thus not exposing any defensive weakness, but we’re splitting hairs at that point.
The one spot the Blues have a distinct and clear advantage is between the pipes. Jordan Binnington is simply better than anything the Avalanche have on their roster.
Of course, saying this, Avalanche fans will be quick to throw this season’s regular season stats in the face of Blues fans. It can’t be denied that, statistically, the Avs goalies had better years covering the regular season.
Phillipp Grubauer finished with a 1.95 goals against and a .922 save percentage. Jonas Johansson finished with 2.06 and .913. Binnington was .910 for his save percentage and 2.65.
The difference is two fold, though. Firstly, Binnington has already proven himself capable of stealing an entire playoff run, not just one series.
Nobody on Colorado has proven that, except Devan Dubnyk. Blues fans should feel exceptionally good about their chances if the Avalanche have to rely on Dubnyk in this series.
Additionally, while Binnington had lesser numbers, he also had more pressure. Binnington faced more shots by himself than both Grubauer and Johansson combined. He had more saves than both of those two combined as well.
All that means he’s battle tested. If St. Louis can get their offensive game going and this becomes a goaltending duel, even Avs fans would admit in private that they would be more comfortable with Binnington in their net. If not, they’re lying.
If nothing else, the Avalanche have shown they don’t have 100% confidence in Grubauer. Whether by injury or coach’s decision, he’s never been THE man in the playoffs.
Despite going 7-5 in 2019 and then 5-1 in 2020, Grubauer has consistently been swapped out for Semyon Varlamov or Pavel Francouz. Neither of those guys are available this time, so the Avs have to lean on Grubauer.
There’s every chance that Grubauer could turn into the 2021 version of 2019’s Binnington. You never know until you go through it.
However, we’ve seen how good Binnington can be at his pinnacle. The guys across the way are still unknowns.
The Blues will likely need Binnington to steal a game or two to win this series, but if he’s the “We’re coming” or “Do I look nervous” Binnington, he can.