Armstrong gets his man… Binnington signs deal.
Binnington Signs with the Blues!
Just as I was sitting down to write about the upcoming matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and the St. Louis Blues, my phone starts going nuts and I see the notice on NHL Network. Jordan Binnington agrees to contract extension with the Blues.
The excitement started to build. I forgot about what I was going to write about. This was the news of the day. No, the news of the season.
With this one tweet, the St. Louis Blues removed a big weight from the front office, the team, and the fan base.
A fan speaking to me on the condition of anonymity stated, “My issue is the length and I dont (sic) feel he is as good as the people in The Lounge act like he is.” He also felt “They would let him have a 900 save % and still say he was good because he was in net when we won the cup.”
While these comments might be in the minority, they are fair points.
The 6-year, $36 million, $6 million AAV contract comes at the perfect time for the team. Binnington has arguably been the best player on the team, even though the numbers may not back that up.
This season he is 9-6-3 in 19 games. His save percentage is 13th overall at .908 with a minimum of 14 games played. His GAA is just a bit better coming in at 11th with a 2.69. The 9 wins in 19 games could give some a pause.
After an 8-0 drubbing by the Colorado Avalanche in the second game of the season. Captain Ryan O’Reilly stated “[Binnnington] was our best player tonight.” This was after giving up 4 goals on 24 shots in 40 min of play.
O’Reilly and his teammates have reiterated that point time after time. Even in tough losses, the team commended how well Binnington had played.
Coming off a 6-game road trip that Binnington was 1-0-1 starting 3 games. In the first game, Binnington gave up 4 goals on 19 shots. He was pulled and dramatically, he picked a few fights with some toothless sharks on his way to the locker room including F Erik Karlsson and G Devan Dubnyk. His actions were credited for the teams 7-6 come from behind effort.
Binnington 27, is known for his quick quips and stone-face responses. “Do I look nervous” has become famous, not only in St. Louis. “Not today” he replied to the question “if he had said anything to Evander Kane to warrant a slash.”
Blues And Knights are set for a frozen skirmish.
That is just what the Blues will need as they face the division-leading Knights on back-to-back nights at the Enterprise Center. The Knights have been chewing thru the division at a furious pace. 33 points backed by a 16-6-1 record with a point percentage of .717. That is tied for 4th in the league while only playing 23 games.
The Knights are also coming off back-to-back losses against the Minnesota Wild. Losing 1-0 in the first game and falling behind 4-1 before mounting a comeback in a 4-3 defeat in the second.
The Knights will be without two of their top players. Number one goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been placed on the Covid-19 list and will miss both games. Also missing both games and his homecoming is star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who returned to Vegas to be re-evaluated after blocking a shot.
This match-up between two of the heavyweights of the Honda West division if not the league will be an E-ticket, to say the least. And that was before Binnington made his splash of the day.
This will be the second and third meeting between these teams. It should have been the third and fourth. The Blues and Knights met for the first time this season in Vegas on January 26. The Second match-up was highly anticipated and set for the 28th.
While the Blues were starting their morning skate, word started to trickle that the game was in jeopardy. A player on the Knights had tested positive. The Twitter chatter grew louder and louder. Within 30 minutes official word came from the NHL that the game had been postponed.
As the day unfolded, former Blues captain, Pietrangelo was the player that had tested positive after playing in the game with the Blues. The NHL decided to use the utmost caution and postponed the game.
Is Stone a marked man?
The postponement robbed Blues fans of the payback they wanted and needed.
In the first game at the 13:29 mark of the second period, Knights Captain Marc Stone and Blues F Tyler Bozak were skating thru the neutral zone. Stone first attempts to punch Bozak. That misses. He then stops turns and leaves his skates hitting Bozak in the head and knocking him to the ice.
Stone would be given a two-minute interference penalty, while Bozak has not returned to the Blues lineup.
During the game, Justin Faulk dropped his gloves and went toe-to-toe with Stone. The question in everyone’s minds, was that enough?
Bozak in the last year of his contract could see his playing days’ end. Stone, a repeat offender, was not given more than two minutes.
The Player Safety committee declined to review the matter.
“The feeling within the department was that the hit itself didn’t have much force and there was no head contact.” Rutherford continued. “The belief was the awkward fall was the cause of the injury, and while injuries can sometimes lead to lengthier suspensions, that’s only the case if the play itself was deemed worthy of a suspension and it wasn’t.”
Many around the league and on Twitter did not agree.
Mark Stone got a two minute interference call for this hit. Bozak did not have the puck, main point of contact is the head, and Stone leaves the ice to deliver the hit. My point stands that the NHL penalizes players harder when they hit a star. https://t.co/e9cR5T2cxz— Alyssa J (@alyssa28760) March 4, 2021
Blue GM Doug Armstrong told Rutherford in a text “I have talked with the NHL’s Player Safety Department on the Bortuzzo and Bozak hits that have, or will result in, our players missing games,” Armstrong communicated. “Player Safety feels that these type of plays should be handled by the officials on the ice. As an organization, we will respect that standard and will play within the guidelines that have been set.”
Both the Blues and the Knights are ready to do Battle. I do not use those words lightly. Being a combat vet, I understand what it means to leave it all on the battlefield. That is what I expect from the Blues.
Binnington, having signed this deal and looking forward to the upcoming mêlée decided the best thing to do was take a drive around St. Louis and reflect.
This is the man the Blues have chosen to go into the upcoming frozen skirmishes with. Winnington, as fans sometimes call him said: “I still have a lot to prove.”
The 6-year extension is player and team-friendly, and Binnington can start to prove himself by getting retribution for Bozak by putting a couple of goose eggs up on the scoreboard and letting fans know, “He is your goalie!!”
Till next time Hockey FANS.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing