Binnington and Hayes Lighting Up IIHF World Championships for Blues

Playing for Team Canada and Team USA respectively, the Blues' goaltender and one of their newest players are having good outings at this year's tournament in the Czech Republic
Canada v Finland - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia
Canada v Finland - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia / RvS.Media/Monika Majer/GettyImages

The St. Louis Blues' season isn't quite over for some players, at least on the international scale. This year's IIHF World Championships in the Czech Republic have seen Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington and winger Kevin Hayes go off for Team Canada and Team USA.

Binnington has been a big reason why Team Canada is still undefeated in the tournament as the final few games of the campaign approach. His most recent outing was a 3-2 win over Switzerland, moving Canada to 5-1-0 in their quest for a 3rd gold medal in the last 4 tournaments. Only Sweden has the other perfect record, but it's Canada that's atop Group A, with the next game against the hosts Czech Republic at the time of this writing!

Binnington also helped Team Canada past powerhouse Finland 5-3 on Saturday, making 29 saves against the team that's pretty much always as dangerous as them on the international stage. It was especially notable since Binnington's play may have inspired the team to overcome two separate deficits, first down 2-0 in the opening period and then 3-2 in the middle frame. Backup Joel Hofer was the man to prop up Binnington, but didn't need to given the Blues' starting goalie's stellar job in a game that easily could've gone both ways. 

On the other side, in Group B, the US has also been strong, 3rd behind purely undefeated Sweden and Germany with a record of 4-1-1, their most recent contest a dominant 10-1 win over Kazakhstan. Yes, Kazakhstan. Why they even have a team is beyond me.

The Blues' Kevin Hayes added a goal in that blowout, his 1st of the tournament in the 6th game he's played in for Team USA. The US faced Latvia for their next contest! They're looking for their first medal since bronze in 2021, which has been the standard for them in the last decade or so. The US's last championship gold came way back in 1960, while their last silver was in 1956. Since then, they've only managed 3rd or have been completely off the podium entirely.

Kevin Hayes wasn't the only Blue to contribute to the 10-1 shelling, however

Young defenseman Matthew Kessel, no relation to Phil, picked up a point on the US's 5th tally in the game at 1:39 of the 2nd period. The 23-year-old Scottsdale native played in 39 games with the Blues this season, with 1 goal and 5 assists, while also managing similar numbers with the Blues' AHL affiliate in Springfield (36 games with 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 pts).

He also played 2 games for the Blues during the 2022/23 campaign but was unable to find the back of the net. The biggest performer was Ottawa Senators star Brady Tkachuk, who predictably had a hat trick for Team USA, completing it at the beginning of the 3rd period. Tkachuk is also a Scottsdale native like Kessel.

Overall, it looks like the Blues' roster is enjoying a good NHL offseason overseas in Europe as the quest for this year's gold continues for many national teams, especially with no Winter Olympics until 2026.