The St. Louis Blues’ decision to go back to Jordan Binnington did not work on Friday night.
Binnington was pulled midway through the second period after surrendering four goals in a 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks that officially put an end to their Stanley Cup title defense.
With Friday’s win the Canucks are now on their way to the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2010-11 season. They will play the top-seed Vegas Golden Knights.
The big talking point to come out of this game will almost certainly be Craig Berube’s decision to start Binnington (who has struggled all postseason, and finishes the Return To Play with an 0-5 record and an .851 save percentage) after going with Jake Allen in each of the past three games.
The Blues won the first two of those games before dropping Wednesday’s pivotal Game 5.
On one hand, the decision does make some sense. Binnington has been the Blues’ starter and just a little more than a year ago he was skating around with the Stanley Cup in his hands. That gets you a pretty lengthy leash in the NHL and it is understandable that the Blues would believe in him and want to go back to him with their season on the line.
But that is the key point: their season was on the line, and it was very clear in the playoffs that Allen has been the better goalie.
The Canucks opened the scoring just 3:45 into the game with a Jay Beagle goal, and then erupted for three goals in the second period.
For as much as Binnington struggled (he was not good) it would be unfair to put this game entirely on him. The team in front of him (which was without five regulars due to injury) did not defend well, while the Canucks were putting on a passing clinic throughout the night.
The most impressive of their goals was Troy Stecher‘s goal midway through the second period to give the Canucks a 3-0 lead, finishing off an incredible tic-tac-toe passing play.
That goal was followed up by Boeser scoring on a booming slap shot that went right through Binnington. That was the goal that sent him to the bench in favor of Allen.
It remains to be seen how far this Canucks team can go as currently built, and a rested and terrifying Vegas team that has looked incredible in the playoffs is awaiting in the next round, but this season has already been a huge success. Their young core has been incredible and they have managed to get some surprising depth contributions in the playoffs.
They not only returned to the playoffs for the first time in four years, but they also knocked out the defending Stanley Cup champions and are in a position they have not been in for close to a decade. It is a big step, and an impressive step.
No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks (Canucks win series 4-2)
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Canucks 5, Blues 2 (recap)
Friday, Aug. 14: Canucks 4, Blues 3 (OT) (recap)
Sunday, Aug. 16: Blues 3, Canucks 2 (OT) (recap)
Monday, Aug. 17: Blues 3, Canucks 1 (recap)
Wednesday, Aug. 19: Canucks 4, Blues 3 (recap)
Friday, Aug. 21: Canucks 6, Blues 2