Every team strives to have a goaltending duo where either player can win a team a game. Where no matter which goalie is in net, the team feels confident that it can get a win. And with the way Jordan Binnington and Jake Allen are playing, the Blues look like they have just that.
There’s no need to rehash how everything went down last season, but it is still important to note the way Allen handled Binnington coming in and stealing the show. His demeanor and ability to cheer on his goaltending partner allowed the Blues to develop a formidable goaltending bond.
And it gave Allen less of a workload than he had in previous years. Back in 2016-17, Allen appeared in 61 games and started 60 of those. He put together solid numbers that year, going 33-20-5. The save percentage dipped a little from the previous year, but still was the second highest in his career.
His play dropped a bit the following season, finishing with a 27-25-3 record in 59 games played. The biggest drop was seen in his save percentage. His .906 SV% was the second worst of his career. His 2.76 GAA was the worst he had finished with. The team was plagued with injuries that season and often hadn’t played their best in front of Allen. But his struggles were still evident.
Briefly going back to last season, the Blues as a whole struggled for half of the season. Everyone remembers their record when January rolled around. And then Binnington came in and the Blues went on a tear. The starts for Allen dropped considerably as he finished with 46 that season. While still a heavier workload, the last time he finished with less than 50 starts was back in 2015-16.
Looking back at Binnington, he thrived in his 32 games. He won more often than not, finishing with 24 wins in those 32 games. He would finish second in rookie of the year voting, despite playing half the season. And he put the team on his back during their Stanley Cup run.
So one could expect a drop off in play this season, right? It’s been everything but that for the Blues. The team has once again been plagued by injuries to key players. That hasn’t stopped the Blues as they’ve adopted a next man mentality that has helped them thrive. And they’re getting exactly what they need from their goaltending.
Binnington is once against handling the workload, having appeared in 21 games to Allen’s eight. And both are helping the Blues win games more often than not. In the last four games alone, Binnington has faced over 30 shots in every game. He faced 40+ in two of those. He won three out of those four.
Allen has won his last two starts, grabbing a shutout in his most recent game against the Blackhawks. He has faced 32+ shots in five of his eight starts. He has come out on top in five of those games, making 30+ saves in three of those.
Diving deeper into the numbers, we start by looking at both goaltenders expected save percentage compared to where they stand right now. Among goaltenders who have played at least 400 minutes, Allen ranks third in delta/adjusted save percentage. This is the difference between his expected save percentage and actual save percentage. Allen’s 1.91 means he is actually performing better than expected.
For Binnington, he ranks not far below Allen with the ninth best dSV%. He is also performing slightly better than expected as his number sits at 1.18.
Another stat to look at is goals saved above average. This simply looks at the number of goals allowed by a goaltender compared to goals given up by an average goaltender. Both Allen and Binnington again rank on the positive side. Binnington is third in the league, saving about 5.91 more goals than the average goaltender. Allen is 12th in the league with 4.1 more goals saved.
An even more impressive number is how the Blues goaltenders fair in different situations. Most notably, they both have among the league’s best save percentages in high danger situations. Allen’s 91.11 high danger save percentage is tops in the league. Binnington is just below him at 86.6%, fourth in the league.
Looking at much simpler numbers, the Blues have given up a total of 72 goals against this season. That is fifth best in the NHL. Allen himself has only given up 13 goals on 215 shots against him. The number is obviously higher for Binnington, due to him appearing in more games. But they are still solid numbers as he’s given up 34 goals on 500 shots against him.
There hasn’t been a Stanley Cup hangover for the Blues as they hold the league’s third best record behind the Bruins and Capitals. And the play of their goaltenders can be looked at as a big reason for that.