You’d be forgiven if you had no idea who Jordan Binnington was before last week.
You’d still be forgiven if you have no idea who he is while you’re reading this, too.
The 25-year-old had just one NHL appearance under his belt prior to this season, coming in for 13 minutes of relief, giving up one goal on four shots back in 2015-16 with the St. Louis Blues, who drafted the 6-foot-1 netminder in the third round in 2011.
From there, it’s been time spent with three American Hockey League teams, where a steady improvement in his numbers (and the inconsistent play of Jake Allen and his .896 save percentage, and loss of Carter Hutton to free agency) have offered him another chance in the Show.
And while it’s not exactly the largest sample size, it’s offered Blues fans some semblance of hope, a respite in a season that wasn’t supposed to go this way after a summer of retooling.
Binnington turned his first NHL start into a 25-save shutout. That effort will often earn a goalie another outing, which Binnington again took advantage of, stopping 28-of-29 to give him his second win in his second kick at the can.
“He’s played well,” Blues coach Craig Berube said Saturday. “He looks confident. He looks aggressive in net, which is good.
This leads us into Saturday, where Binnington has been granted a third round with a .937 save percentage now in four appearances this season. It’s hardly a surprise, of course. One goal allowed across two NHL games — regardless of the opponent (which in this case was the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens) — isn’t going to get you sent down.
Binnington, arguably, is in for his biggest test as the hot hand in St. Louis against the Dallas Stars. The latter have worked themselves into third place in the Central Division after two of its best players — Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn — were compared to the excrement of a ranch animal.
Binnington is not expected to save the world, at least not yet.
But what this could be is the start of an AHL journeyman finally making it to the next level and sticking there.
Mackenzie Blackwood in New Jersey is starting to carve out a role for himself. Pheonix Copley has shown some good signs with the Washington Capitals. Jack Campbell has been exceptional when called upon (and healthy) on a lowly Los Angeles Kings team.
Binnington has a long way to go, but there are some signs of life in his game. A couple of big outings when given the chance has spawned confidence.
“I’m just going to try and worry about what’s in my control,” Binnington said. “Just hopefully try and be part of the solution.”
In St. Louis, that means solid goaltending.