Jordan Binnington hasn’t looked like a Stanley Cup Champion this postseason.
One might even dare to say he looks nervous.
After backstopping the St. Louis Blues to a Stanley Cup Finals victory over the Boston Bruins last year, Binnington has yet to find his stride during the NHL’s return to play.
Binnington has lost all four of the games he’s started this postseason, and has stumbled to a .862 save percentage in the process.
That’s a far cry from the .914 save percentage he posted during last year’s playoffs.
Down 2-0 in the series heading into tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, the Blues’ coaching staff have a tough decision to make in goal. Do they stick with Binnington with hopes of him figuring it out or try to light a fire under their team by shaking things up with Jake Allen?
It’s a decision that will be criticized by many in St. Louis if it doesn’t work out, and is one that could prove to be a key deciding factor in who takes home this series.
If the Blues go with Binnington and he fails to make more than 20 saves for the third game in a row, there’s a good chance the Blues will be down 3-0 in the series, and that’s not a good place for any team to be in a best of seven series.
Allen has appeared in just half of one round robin game since the Blues arrived in Edmonton, but made 37 saves on 38 total shots. It’s a small sample size, but I could certainly see a scenario where Craig Berube and his staff go with the more experienced netminder to try and calm their team down and make this a series.
It’s also worth mentioning that Allen put together a very respectable 12-6-3 record with a .927 save percentage in the regular season, which could make it even more tempting for the Blues to switch things up in the crease.
What we do know is that the Canucks — namely Bo Horvat — have had no issue figuring out Binnington thus far in the series. The Canucks clearly got the memo to shoot blocker side on the Blues’ netminder and so far, it’s worked.
So much so, that Horvat even joked postgame that Binnington was probably used to him going low blocker when asked why he chose to go five-hole for the game two overtime winning goal — his fourth goal of the series.
I’ve dug around and talked to some Blues fans, writers, and Twitter users to see what the mood is in St. Louis for how the team should approach the goaltending decision that looms ahead, and to be honest, they seem pretty split 50/50.
I see a lot of people making the case for both goaltenders, which is why I think this will be such a tough decision for the Blues’ staff to make, and one that will almost certainly be widely criticized if it backfires.
Regardless of who the Blues start, I’m not sure there’s a hotter player in the bubble than Bo Horvat right now, and with the Canucks ever-dangerous powerplay always ready to strike, it might make very little difference who the Blues decide to suit up.