Jordan Binnington has faced the Boston Bruins just once in his young NHL career, but it’s safe to assume Boston will have plenty of intel on the St. Louis Blues goalie in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Blues drafted the 25-year-old goalie in the third round of the 2011 NHL Draft, and he’s been St. Louis property ever since. However, the Blues’ recent lack of an AHL affiliate led to Binnington appearing in 28 games for the Providence Bruins last season.
When the NHL expanded to 31 teams prior to last season, the AHL was still at 30 teams, and the Blues ended up losing a game of affiliate musical chairs. Some of the Blues’ minor leaguers went and played with Colorado’s affiliate in San Antonio while others played for the Vegas affiliate in Chicago.
Still with us? Kind of confusing, we know.
Binnington, however, was sent to Providence where he would get more playing time with the Baby B’s. The Blues “loaned” Binnington to Providence where he saw a lot of ice time during the 2017-18 season.
He even dropped the gloves and threw down in a goalie fight against Hershey.
When he stayed in the crease, Binnington was very good between the pipes for the P-Bruins. He posted a 17-9 record with a sterling .926 save percentage to go along with a 2.05 goals against average. That performance even earned Binnington an All-Star Game nod as a member of the P-Bruins.
St. Louis ultimately struck an affiliate deal with the San Antonio Rampage which is where Binnington began the 2018-19 season. He continued to roll and was eventually called up and helped spark the Blues’ worst-to-first run in the Western Conference that has them four wins from the Stanley Cup, and he now gets a chance to beat the team that gave him a chance to play just a year ago.
Ultimately, the Bruins’ decision to make that aforementioned deal with the Blues might end up benefiting them. On multiple occasions this spring, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has credited goaltender coach Bob Essensa with helping the team by preparing in-depth scouting reports on the opposing goalies, and Essensa was partially responsible for Boston being able to solve Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in the second round. Now, after getting a head start on scouting, Essensa still has nearly a week to craft a plan to beat Binnington, a goalie with whom he is quite familiar after Binnington’s Bruins stint last year.
That advantage almost certainly will be overstated in the buildup to the Cup Final, but when you’re about to play a seven-game series for the top prize in the sport, you’ll take all the advantages you can find.
Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images