There is no doubt that both the Boston and Providence Bruins have enjoyed a good string of success as of late. Generally, when teams go through these strong stretches, the players you may expect will mostly carry the load, i.e Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, or in Providence’s case, Austin Czarnik or Peter Cehlarik.
At the same time, there’s always a player or two that you may not expect that quietly flies under the radar and contributes in a way you probably didn’t expect. Such is the case with Providence backup goaltender Jordan Binnington.
After the weekend of Jan. 12-14, Binnington was second among American Hockey League goaltenders with a 1.81 goals against average and third in save percentage at .931 to go along with a respectable 10-3-1 record in 15 games played this season. Pretty solid for a backup behind a noteworthy prospect in Zane McIntyre.
“He’s as steady as it comes,” Providence head coach Jay Leach said of Binnington after the P-Bruins Jan. 12 home game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. “He sees the puck well, he moves the puck well. He’s been able to fill in the backup role in an exceptional way and the numbers speak for themselves.”
Binnington, the 2011 third-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues, is currently on loan from the Central Division squad, as St. Louis does not have an AHL affiliate for the 2017-18 season. The 24-year-old entered last weekend winning eight straight decisions and hadn’t lost in regulation since Oct. 28 at Hershey. His best start undoubtedly coming against the Hartford Wolfpack, stopping all 33 shots that came his way in a 5-0 P-Bruins win.
Now in his fifth season of professional hockey, Binnington has found some success at the minor league level. In 2013-14 with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL, Binnington had a 23-13-3 record along with a 2.35 GAA and a .922 save percentage. The following season, with the Chicago Wolves, Binnington sported another 2.35 GAA to go along with a 25-15-4 record and a .916 save percentage.
Binnington had one taste of the NHL experience coming in relief of Brian Elliot in the third period of the Blues 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes back on Jan. 14, 2016. Binnington made three saves and allowed one goal in 12:47 of relief.
Binnington got the nod in two of Providence’s three games last weekend. As good as he has played, Binnington had a weekend to forget as Providence dropped both games.
On Jan. 12 vs. Bridgeport, Binnington gave up two sharp-angle shots that any goalie would like to have back, one in the second and another, the game-winner, late in the third in the P-Bruins 3-2 loss. Bridgeport’s first goal came on a rebound on a power-play rush, but one Binnington could see and square up to. Certainly, a save he could have made.
“I think the first goal against we just gave them a 3-on-1 because one of our defensemen decided to join a rush on a 2-on-0 on the penalty kill,” Leach said. “The third one it looked like it may have deflected off something, and the [second] one I know deflected off one of our guys and dipped on him a little, but still I’m sure he’d like to have that one back.”
One upside for Binnington against Bridgeport came in the first, not long after surrendering the tying goal. Binnington made a Tim Thomas-like stick save robbing Travis St. Denis on a 2-on-1 to keep things tied.
Things weren’t much better for Binnington on Sunday, Jan. 14. The Providence backup was yanked after surrendering three goals in the 5-2 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Despite the bump in the road, Binnington has made quite the impression as McIntyre’s backup this season, providing the Bruins organization with some depth between the pipes, though he is not under contract with Boston.
This leaves two intriguing questions: will St. Louis bring him back to the organization? Or will the Bruins purchase the contract and add him to their list of goaltending prospects?
Despite the weekend blip, Binnington doing his job and putting himself in a good position.