The St. Louis Blues haven’t won a game yet in Edmonton, and they might be changing goalies because of it.
Blues coach Craig Berube was noncommittal when asked if he would start Jake Allen instead of Jordan Binnington in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, FS-MW).
“That’s something I’ll discuss tomorrow with the coaching staff,” Berube said following a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 2 on Friday. “That’s as far as I’m going to take that.”
The fourth-seeded Blues trail the fifth-seeded Canucks 2-0 in the best-of-7 series, and Binnington has allowed nine goals on 47 shots in the two games, including four goals on 25 shots in Game 2.
Binnington led the Blues to the Stanley Cup championship last season, with 16 wins, a 2.46 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in the playoffs.
He’s 0-4-0 this postseason and has allowed 17 goals on 123 shots (.861 save percentage), including 15 on 85 shots (.824) in his past three starts.
Allen made 37 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Sunday.
“I think there’s concern all around,” Berube said when asked specifically about Binnington’s past three starts. “That’s too many goals just in general. It’s not just the goalie, it’s the whole team.”
The two biggest issues for the Blues against the Canucks have been special teams and stopping center Bo Horvat.
The Canucks are 5-for-9 on the power play, with Horvat scoring one in Game 1. Horvat scored a shorthanded goal in Game 2 by blowing past two Blues forwards on a highlight-reel, end-to-end rush before scoring the winner on a breakaway at 5:55 of overtime.
It was his fourth goal of the series and NHL-leading sixth of the postseason.
“Don’t give him breakaways,” Berube said. “He walked two of our people 1-on-1 for a breakaway and tonight [in overtime] it’s kind of a chuck-puck play and we’ve got to recognize he got behind us. They’re breakaways. You’ve got to keep him in front of you. We can’t let him beat us one-on-one. You’ve got to defend that. That’s it. Simple.”
The frustrating part for the Blues is they said they feel they’ve been the better team for more minutes in this series. Most have been at 5-on-5, but simple mistakes like not defending Horvat when he’s rushing the puck or not getting the puck out of the zone at the right time have cost them.
However, the frustration is not bleeding into their confidence.
“I feel like tonight was probably the best game we’ve played…since we’ve been in Edmonton,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to keep playing and eventually things turn. Is it frustrating? Yeah, sure, but we don’t really care what people think outside our locker room. We had a lot of noise last year and look at what we did. It’s a new year, obviously. We don’t want to keep going back to last year, but the core of this group went through that together and we know how to bounce back from these things.”
It’s not unprecedented.
The past two times a defending Stanley Cup champion lost the first two games in the first round it came back to win the series in six games, each time against the Blues (Chicago Blackhawks, 2014; Los Angeles Kings, 2013).
“What matters is how we play and what we believe in this room, and the way we played in this game was exactly the way we need to play for the most part,” Blues forward David Perron said. “We gave them a couple breaks. If we put 40 shots on net and the pressure we did tonight I’m confident that we can win the next couple of games.”
Regardless if it’s Binnington or Allen in goal.
“We win a game and we’re right back in it,” Berube said.