I am trying to remember a season in which Blues fans weren’t at each other on social media about their goaltender. It may be the lockout season, which had the double benefit of being a lockout with no hockey, and also before the advent of most social media sites other than maybe LiveJournal.
There was a controversy between Manny Legace and Chris Mason that Legace’s disintegrating play the season after he was an all-star intensified. There was Chris Mason vs. Ty Conklin for a little while, and then there was the rivalry between Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott (with a late touch of Ryan Miller added in just to spice things up). Between that was the Halak and Conklin tandem, which made Ben Bishop expendable with Jake Allen waiting in the wings. Then, of course, there were the Elliott/Allen 1A/1B years, where Allen showed flashes of potential stymied by an annual January/February slump. It was one of those slumps that opened the door for the Blues’ current starting goaltender, Jordan Binnington. Backup Ville Husso being ready for the NHL helped usher Allen and his more expensive contract out the door to Montreal.
Binnington has been on the Covid-19 list since his November 30th win against the Lightning. Husso, who has had a strong season before Binnington went down, played well before dropping with an injury against the Panthers on December 7th. Husso’s injury, along with cap issues that have kept Joel Hofer in Springfield, has given the Blues fourth string goaltender Charlie Lindgren a chance to shine.
Before Husso was placed on the LTIR, he had posted a 3-2-1 record, a 2.46 GAA, and a .927 save percentage. In two games against the Panthers, the latter of which was incomplete, Husso faced a combined 88 shots on net and allowed six goals. Questions about him being the backup that the Blues needed have evaporated.
Or at least they had evaporated until Charlie Lindgren brought his stellar AHL stat line to the NHL. He’s gone 4-0-0 since getting the call, with a .129 GAA and a .956 SV%, allowing just four goals on 91 shots.
Jon Gilles, who performed admirably in an OTL to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, has been dealt to New Jersey to make room for Jordan Binnington’s return.
That’s right, Binnington is coming back, and right now all anyone can ask is what the Blues plan to do with Lindgren.
It’s a fair question. There’s the idea that you ride the hot hand in hockey, and Lindgren’s hand is thermonuclear. You also want to get your starter some playing time now that he’s back after an extended absence. Clearly, Binnington is the guy. You can have your opinions over the term and length of his last contract (I do), but it’s unrealistic for the Blues to start a backup’s backup’s backup while the starter is healthy.
The Blues are extremely fortunate to have Lindgren in the system, and if Husso moves on after putting up good old fashioned contract earning numbers this year, then the Blues have someone capable to step in for Husso. He’s also a great failsafe while Husso is on the IR and Binnington is getting back into the swing of things.
It’s hard to say not to compare him to Husso and have a spirited debate about the backup situation, despite the small sample size of games played for both goaltenders, but it’s more than likely difficult to include him in a ménage-a-trois goalie controversy. Debating Binnington on his own merits may be an exercise for Blues Twitter, but they need to treat it as a solo affair.