Literally no one wants to see a slumping team play disinterested hockey, and with injuries mounting, there was a chance that the Blues could’ve gone in that direction last night against the Sharks.
That didn’t happen, but the direction they went in was probably even more unexpected.
The final score, a 7-6 Blues win, doesn’t tell the entire story of the gong show on ice that happened last night in San Jose. The affair was defense optional, and goaltending questionable, especially in the third period. No one can accuse either team of not trying, though trying to do what is up for debate. Both the Blues and the Sharks were frustrated, and no one showed that frustration quite like Jordan Binnington.
Fans know that, despite his reputation for being cool and collected - and that he plays best when he’s got a level head - Binnington has a temper. Kyle Clifford knows. Jamie Benn is aware. Last night, half of the San Jose Sharks found out:
On his way off of the ice after allowing Evander Kane’s second goal of the night (the war between Binnington and Kane started with a spear from Kane and ended with an even bigger chip on the forward’s shoulder), Jordan Binnington decided to go HAM on the Sharks, ending with a back and forth with Devan Dubnyk.
The Blues later credited Binnington’s actions with sparking their victory (The Athletic - subscription required). Honestly, winning that game isn’t a badge of honor, and Justin Faulk getting in Kane’s face after Kane took a whack at Ville Husso probably did just as much. Husso’s relief play was solid, and the Blues’ offense seemed just flat-out tired of their own non-existent play and decided to do something about it.
If you have to draw from a temper tantrum at center ice to win while your team (and the other team, frankly) is playing like hot garbage, this isn’t a good thing. Take what you can get, I guess, but anyone who’s been around here for a while knows that my number one pet peeve is when the Blues play like trash, and instead of playing better and more focused hockey, they lose their cool. The previous offender who used to drive me nuts was David Backes. Running at other players doesn’t motivate your own guys, it shows that you don’t have discipline, and it also focuses the other team’s efforts on exploiting your weaknesses.
Losing your cool isn’t a good sign. The Sharks were motivated enough to score two more goals in the third. The Blues were fortunate that the Sharks played an equally terrible game last night and allowed three in the last 20 minutes.
If the Blues hadn’t’ve countered the Sharks’ goals, the narrative today’d be a lot different. Binnington is a significantly better goaltender when he is even-keeled. It’s not a good sign when he isn’t. It’s also not the best sign that the Blues have to wait for an outburst from a goalie left out to dry to get some fire in their step.
Playing through a mounting injured reserve is one thing. Playing smart hockey is another. Last night wasn’t a game that either the Sharks or the Blues will want to revisit. A win is a win and the Blues’ three game losing streak is over; hopefully they’ll take last night’s game into tomorrow night and make the adjustments needed to play a more disciplined game of hockey. I’d rather see Binnington on the highlight reels for his saves.