Jordan Binnington probably wasn’t the biggest reason the St. Louis Blues lost Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, squandering a two-goal lead in what would go on to be a 4-2 defeat. Penalties crushed them, they were outshot 30-12 over the final two periods, and the Blues’ forwards struggled to generate many — if any — quality chances after Vladimir Tarasenko‘s goal early in the second period.
Basically, a lot of things went wrong and none of that is going to be good enough in any game at any point in the season, let alone a Stanley Cup Final game against a team that has now won eight playoff games in a row.
Even so, anytime you have a two-goal lead you want to make sure that gets locked down because letting a game like that slip away in a best-of-seven series could be a crushing blow to your chances. There is a ridiculously fine line between winning and losing in the playoffs, and you can’t let games like that where you pounce on a team early turn into a loss. That makes Game 2 on Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN; live stream) all the more important for the Blues.
The keys for a turnaround performance should be pretty easy to see, and staying out of the penalty box would be a good place to start.
It would also be helpful if Binnington continued his season-long trend by following up a loss with another big performance in net.
Since becoming the Blues’ starting goalie in early January, he has lost consecutive games on just two different occasions and has been stellar in all of his starts following a loss. Entering Wednesday he is 11-2 in such starts with a .939 save percentage (regular season and playoffs combined). In those 13 starts he has allowed more than two goals just two times, and only once has he allowed more than three. To this point he has always rebounded with a huge performance.
As is the case with everything Binnington has done this season there is obviously a small sample size issue here. He has still only appeared in 52 games this season and has at times played at a level that will be almost impossible to sustain long-term. His performance after losses is one of those areas.
He still really hasn’t that big regression in his performance that is almost certainly coming at some point, and he really hasn’t had the extended slump that every player is prone to over the course of a season. At some point in their career a goalie is going to lose a few games in a row and string together a few bad performances. It just has not happened yet with Binnington. If the Blues are going to have a chance to win this series they are going to need that to continue on Wednesday night because a two-game deficit against this Bruins team would be an awfully difficult hole to climb out of.
Blues-Bruins Game 2 is Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET from TD Garden on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.
MORE BRUINS-BLUES GAME 2:
• Robert Thomas sidelined for Blues
• Three keys for Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final
• Blues expect to be a lot better
• Unflappable Binnington won’t be affected by Stanley Cup spotlight