The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.
• Catch up with Friday’s playoff action with the NHL Rink Wrap.
• There is only one game on the NHL playoff schedule for Saturday night, and it is the St. Louis Blues hosting the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 of their Second Round series.
• Jordan Binnington is reclaiming his starting job in the Blues net.
The biggest question mark for the St. Louis Blues this postseason was probably their goaltending position.
Jordan Binnington, their Stanley Cup winning starter, had lost his starting job in the second half of the regular season and had seen his play progressively decline after his championship debut season back in 2019. The Blues still made a significant financial investment in him this past offseason, but this season had not gone as planned.
Ville Husso, the Blues’ most productive goalie during the regular season, entered the playoffs as the starter and got off to a great start in Game 1 of the First Round. But after two bad games against the Wild, St. Louis decided to go back to Binnington.
It has proven to be a wise choice.
Binnington enters play on Saturday (8 p.m. ET) having won four of his five starts this postseason with a stellar .948 save percentage. His only loss so far was Game 1 of this series against Colorado in a game where he still played fantastic hockey and at least gave the Blues a chance to win, getting the game to overtime. He came back in Game 2 and stopped 30 of 31 shots to help the Blues even the series and take home-ice advantage away from the Avalanche.
This is an important development for the Blues because it is probably their best chance at an upset in this series.
Colorado’s offense is among the NHL’s elite, and its team speed is game-changing. There are not really many teams in the league that can matchup with their forwards (and defense, for that matter) and slow them down. And the Blues’ defense is already fighting an uphill battle playing through some injuries at the moment. The Avalanche are going to get their chances, and they are going to spend time in the Blues’ defensive zone. It is going to be imperative for goaltending to be a difference-maker. It might be their only chance.
So far, Binnington has been up to that challenge.
Goaltending is always the biggest X-factor in a playoff series and sometimes all it takes for an unexpected result is for one goalie to go on a heater for seven games.
There is no guarantee that Binnington is going to do that, but the way he has played so far this postseason is an encouraging step. It is also a complete 180 from what we have seen from him in his previous two playoff appearances. That is a welcome change not only for their chances this season, but also because of how much of his contract remains.
PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
• Hurricanes vs. Rangers
• Lightning vs. Panthers
• Avalanche vs. Blues
• Flames vs. Oilers
• Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
• NHL Second Round predictions
• Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round