Vladimir Tarasenko and Jordan Binnington both played pretty ok in February. The Blues as a whole tied their team record for wins in a month with 12, and set a new mark for wins in the month of February. The team finds itself just five points out of first place in the Central Division with three games in hand on the division leading Nashville Predators - and all that happened within about a month’s time span, a good bit of it spent missing key players.
Two players the Blues relied on to get them through the month were forward Vladimir Tarasenko (22 points in 14 games) and Jordan Binnington (10-1-0, four shutouts). The NHL awarded both of them today. Tarasenko was named the league’s third star of the month, and Binnington was named rookie of the month.
From the NHL’s press release re: Tarasenko:
Tarasenko placed third in the NHL with 10-12—22 in 14 games to help the Blues (34‑23‑6, 74 points) go 12-1-1 in February and match a franchise record for wins in a calendar month (also April 2013: 12-3-0). Tarasenko collected points in 12 of his 14 appearances, highlighted by six multi-point efforts. That included his fourth career hat trick Feb. 10 at NSH, sealed in overtime by his 200th NHL goal. Tarasenko scored in seven total contests during the month, topping the League with four game-winners: Feb. 2 at CBJ, Feb. 10 at NSH, Feb. 16 at COL and Feb. 17 at MIN. The 27-year-old Yaroslavl, Russia, native ranks second on St. Louis with 27-27—54 in 62 outings this season. That includes 16-16—32 in 25 games since Jan. 3 to lift the Blues (19-5-2) from last in the NHL standings to third place in the Central Division.
From the NHL’s press release re: Binnington
St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington, who led all netminders (rookies and veterans) with 10 wins and four shutouts in 11 appearances (10-1-0, 1.44 GAA, .945 SV%, 4 SO), has been named the NHL’s “Rookie of the Month” for February.
Binnington became the ninth rookie goaltender in NHL history to earn 10-plus wins in a calendar month – and the first to achieve the feat since Detroit’s Jimmy Howard in March 2010 (12-2-1). He also became the 10th rookie netminder in League history to post a nine-game winning streak (Jan. 23 – Feb. 19) as well as the fourth to win each of his first seven home starts (Jan. 10 – present), joining Frank McCool (8), Ken Dryden (8) and Wayne Thomas (7).
Binnington yielded two or fewer goals in nine of his 11 February outings, including four shutouts and consecutive clean sheets Feb. 14 at ARI (21 SV) and Feb. 17 at MIN (31 SV). Binnington capped the month with another shutout (Feb. 26 vs. NSH: 19 SV), making him the second goaltender in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) with five through his first 18 career starts (also Jacques Plante) (emphasis mine).
A third-round selection (87th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft who did not make his first NHL start until Jan. 7 of this year, Binnington owns a 15-2-1 record, 1.61 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and five shutouts through 20 appearances this season. Only four other goaltenders in League history have won as many games through their first 18 career starts: Andrew Hammond (16), Bob Froese (15), Patrick Lalime (15) and Brent Johnson (15).
Ignore that last list (the names will disappoint you) and focus on the fact that Jordan Binnington’s just the second NHL goalie to have five shutouts through his first 18 career starts. He’s second to Jacques Plante. That’s the kind of company that you want to keep.
Binnington’s selection this month as rookie of the month goes a little way to getting him attention in the race for the Calder trophy. One of the flashier forwards out there will probably get more attention like Elias Pettersson or a scoring defenseman like Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin, but Binnington’s name is definitely in the mix for the award.