Jordan Binnington will start for the St. Louis Blues against the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. Interestingly, he played for our Providence Bruins, the B’s American Hockey League affiliate last season and also received a nod to play in the AHL All-Star Game.
At the start of last season, the Blues were sharing their AHL affiliate in San Antonio with the Colorado Avalanche. That meant the Blues could only place one goalie there. The Bruins had just lost goalie Malcolm Subban on waivers to the Vegas Golden Knights. So Providence Bruins GM John Ferguson Jr. agreed to let Binnington, though the property of the Blues, play here and share time with Zane McIntyre.
“I remember he was a good goalie,” Bruins forward Danton Heinen said. “From the few times that I practiced with him down there, I remember him being solid and tough to score on in practice, and he was a good guy.”
Binnington has been more than a good goalie this season. He led the NHL in goals-against average (1.89) and had a .927 save percentage during the regular season. He is also a finalist for the Calder Trophy, awarded annually to the top rookie in the NHL. He has a 2.36 GAA and .914 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, helping St. Louis reach the Final for the first time since 1970.
“Yeah, I was very fortunate for them to take me in,” Binnington said. “I got some experience, and it’s a great organization over there. Lots of good players, good city, so I was very fortunate to get an opportunity to play last year and get some experience under my belt and take into this year.”
Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton, who was with Providence all of last season, said even though Binnington wasn’t Boston property, he fit right in. That sentiment is echoed by fellow blueliner Matt Grzelcyk who noted that he didn’t notice anything different about having a goalie from another organization in the locker room. “We welcomed him.”
Binnington was 17-9-0 with a 2.05 GAA and .926 save percentage in 28 games for Providence. During his stay, the Blues sent their development coach Dave Rogalski, who’s also a goalie coach, to work with Binnington a couple times. Binnington also worked closely with Boston goaltender development coach Mike Dunham.
Dunham said he didn’t work too much with Binnington on technique. They focused more on his confidence and other mental parts of the game, and he had high praise for how Jordan handled the situation.
“Jordan came in and got comfortable with the teammates quickly, and I think that helped a lot,” Dunham said. “He just came out and he worked hard every day. He did the best he could and put up really good numbers for us.” Those numbers have continued with St. Louis.
Heinen doesn’t think the little bit of experience some Bruins had facing Binnington in practice will make much of a difference. But Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is always looking for any edge. So he hopes Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa and Dunham can contribute something gleaned from last season in Providence to aid Boston’s cause.
“I’d like to think it would help,” Cassidy said. “It can’t hurt to have some little details that may help.”