Jordan Binnington could start in goal for the St. Louis Blues against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Friday (9:45 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, FS-MW).
“I haven’t made that decision yet,” Blues coach Craig Berube said Thursday. “I’m going to think about it still.”
St. Louis trails the best-of-7 series and is facing elimination.
Binnington has been the backup to Jake Allen for the past three games. He had started Games 1 and 2 of the series, both losses, and allowed nine goals on 47 shots.
Allen made 61 saves on 64 shots in winning Games 3 and 4, but allowed four goals on 30 shots, including three on 13 shots in the second period, in a 4-3 loss in Game 5 on Wednesday.
Binnington was the No. 1 goalie when the Blues won the Stanley Cup last season, and Berube said his history of winning big games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs matters in his evaluation of who should start Game 6.
Binnington was 3-0 with a .965 save percentage (three goals on 86 shots) when the Blues faced elimination in the playoffs last season.
“You’ve got to look at what your goalie did in the past at certain times and what he’s done this year at certain times,” Berube said. “We have faith in both of our goalies. I think that Jake Allen came in and did a real good job for us, and to me Binner (Binnington) at the start of the playoffs here in the round-robin was excellent. They’re kind of like our team right now. But I’m not going to make a decision yet on it. I’m going to think about it a little bit today.”
Binnington is 0-4-0 with a 4.27 goals-against average and .862 save percentage in his four starts in Edmonton, the hub city for the West. He has allowed 15 goals on 85 shots in his past three starts, a big reason why Allen took over for Game 3.
“He understands the situation, he’s a team guy, just like Jake Allen is,” Berube said. “Binner has been good. He’s worked hard in practice and he’s stayed ready. That’s what we talked to him about. You’ve got to stay ready. Things change, and he stayed ready and he worked hard in practice and cheered his teammates on.”
Maybe the last thing the Blues players are concerned about is which goalie will start Game 6.
“I think everyone in our room believes we have the best duo of goalies in the League,” forward Zach Sanford said. “It’s awesome for us. Whoever is in the net, they’re going to give us a chance to win and come up with big saves when we need them to. We’ve seen Jakey do that a lot of times and we’ve seen Binner do it all last year and this year too. It just gives us a lot of confidence out there when we’re going out with either one of those two in the net.”
The Blues may not have lost any of their belief despite trailing in the series because they were up 3-1 midway through the second period of Game 5.
But Vancouver scored three goals in a span of 6:23 in the second to take a 4-3 lead into the third. Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom made nine saves in the third to secure the win.
“We had the game in control, in my opinion,” Berube said. “We let it slip away. In Game 6, we’ve been there before. We know how to win these games and how to play them.”
The Blues were down 3-2 against the Dallas Stars in the second round last season and won 4-1 in Game 6 and 2-1 in double-overtime in Game 7.
“We’ve seen a lot of different scenarios and that being one of them,” Sanford said of being down 3-2 in a series. “We’re just focusing on the game tomorrow. If we don’t start well and get a win tomorrow, the next one doesn’t even matter.”
The Blues don’t have to change who they are or anything about their game plan to get the win, Berube said. But he does want to see St. Louis play quicker than it did after taking that 3-1 lead in Game 5.
“This is what our team is built for,” Berube said. “I told them at the beginning of this series that it’s going to be a long series, and this is how we play. This is our game. We wear teams down over time in a series, and we’re going to get to a Game 7.”