‘Frustrated’ Jordan Binnington vents on Blues’ stumbling start: ‘It’s the NHL. Let’s go!’

Jordan Binnington is frustrated.

In a one-on-one interview with The athletic On Thursday, the Blues goaltender sounded like some of the frustrations were directed at himself. But he also sounded really frustrated with his team and how long it is taking to round into form.

Binnington has been arguably the Blues’ best player early in the 2022-23 season, although he has often been the victim of poor play in front of him. His frustration level has been building during this stretch, and lately there have been more goals in net that could be pinned on him. There were also more incidents on-ice that he initiated with opponents, which renewed his reputation around the NHL as – to put it mildly – an antagonist.

It has reached the point where Blues coach Craig Berube recently said Binnington needs “a reset” and will start Thomas Greiss against the Jets on Thursday. Grace has won his last three starts and also played well against the Jets earlier this season, albeit in a 4-0 loss, making 38 saves.

Binnington, who has made 20 of the team’s 26 starts, is 0-6 in his last six appearances with a 5.11 goals-against average and a .827 save percentage.

“Yeah, I think right now ‘Binner’ gets a few days here to work on his game and get some practice time,” Beruby said. “I think a reset more than anything right now. He’s played a lot of hockey this year. He’s played a lot of good hockey. I think just a reset more than anything.”

Binnington practices in the “starter’s net” on Thursday mornings, which typically indicates which netminder has the assignment that night. But after practice, Greiss was the first back to the Blues’ locker room, where it was confirmed he would start.

Binnington came later, and when he took off his gear, he indicated that he was fine. But the frustration in his voice was palpable.

“I feel good,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay focused and clear the mind a little bit. I think sometimes when things aren’t going well as a group, you kind of let that sink into your game. I’m definitely frustrated. I’m not here to waste my time .I want to win every game, and it’s definitely frustrating when you feel like … but it is what it is.

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Feel like what? Binnington was asked to finish his thought. Frustrating when you feel like what?

“When you compete and play hard and you hate to lose and you don’t win, you know, it’s frustrating,” he said. “It’s gotten a little louder over time.”

For Binnington, it feels like the beginning of last season, when the Blues won eight of their first 11 games and, personally, he went 6-2. But in mid-November, the wheels began to fall off, then Binnington came down with COVID-19 in early December, and he lost his job to backup Ville Husso.

“It’s the same old story; It’s happened (a couple) years in a row where it’s the same type of start and, you know, it pisses me off,” Binnington said. “I’m here to win and that starts from day one, from training camp.

“We’re building and playing together slowly. We’re getting there. But we’re two and a half, three months into the season. It’s just frustrating over a period of time when it’s the same thing that you see and you expect that things are different. I’m not here to waste my time every game. It’s the NHL. Let’s go!”

In September, Binnington spoke exclusively with The athletic And said he’s learning to play with a new source of motivation this season, and it seemed to be working well for him early in the season. He got the club off to a 3-0 start, and even during the eight-game losing streak, he was hardly to blame.

Then the Blues found themselves back in a similar situation, losing games and leaning on the backup.

“You get things going again, you try to prevent it from going in, be aware of it (and it happens again),” Binnington said.

Maybe that’s why he’s a lot more famous lately.

“Sometimes I’m going to show emotion,” Binnington said. “I hate to lose. Yeah, we’re all working. We’re all trying to build. Again, it’s just frustrating that it’s taking so long to get there. It’s a team sport, and you try to pick guys up. You try to lead. You try to find different ways to lead.”

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Against Carolina on December 1, the Blues had a 2-0 lead when the Hurricanes scored three times in 64 seconds to take a 3-2 lead. It was 12 minutes into the second period when Binnington laid a check on Canes captain Jordan Staal.

Binnington addressed the play Thursday morning.

“Yeah, just kind of instinct,” he said. “A little bit of emotion there, frustration with how it’s going, and I just tried to take a body. I thought it was a clean body – shoulder to chest, stick on puck. I want the emotion. I want the energy. I want To play hard, be hard to play against and play aggressively. It’s a message.”

Two nights after the hit on Staal, the Blues played Pittsburgh, and with the Penguins leading 3-1 and the first period winding down, Binnington was playing the puck behind the net to defenseman Justin Faulk.

The Pens’ Jason Zucker was skating around the back of the net, chasing down the puck, when Binnington stuck his glove out and it got Zucker in the face.

Zucker stayed down on the ice for a moment.

“The Zucker thing, I didn’t even know I hit him in the head,” Binnington said. “I was trying to create space. What scared me about it is, he goes into the boards and stays down, and he’s fine. There’s nothing to do.”

But in the second period, Binnington faced only two shots, and the second was a goal by Zucker. He was pulled from the game, and on his way out skated by the Pittsburgh bench where he verbally engaged Sugar.

“I just let the guy know what I think about him and his game,” Binnington said.

In Binnington’s mind, it was between him and Zucker, but nationally it garnered a lot of headlines.

“Yeah, it was a bit out of proportion,” he said.

Many will say it’s because of Binnington’s reputation, along with the fact that the Zucker incident came on the heels of the Staal one.

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“Every instance is different,” he countered. “They’re not antis. It’s the way I play the game. I don’t know what else to say about it. I’m not bashing anybody. I’m not suspended.

“Yeah I get my job is to keep the puck, but sometimes I think I’m a competitor and I can’t just stay in there and take it. It’s not suitable for me, and I have high standards for us as a group and For myself, and I stick to that.”

Binnington said he sends a message every now and then, even if it doesn’t seem like the messages are doing anything in terms of pumping up the team or anything else.

“Well, I think that’s part of it,” he said. “It’s just now it takes time for us all to buy into the game plan. But I believe that in time we will get there. We are working hard and we want to be successful. As I said, it was a frustrating time when we Work through it.

Whether it was blown out of proportion or Binnington had good intentions to send the Blues a message, it was evident after the Pittsburgh game that Berube didn’t like it.

Requested by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas on Binnington’s show of frustration, Berube replied: “It’s got to stop. It’s not helping anything. It’s not helping anything. Just play goal. Keep the puck.”

What did Binnington think of Berube’s assessment?

“I have no comment on that,” he said.

The two had a long conversation the next day, and Binnington said things were going well.

“Yeah, it’s about results for me, all the way through,” he said. “There’s no complaining. I’m going to pick myself back up and I’m going to get back out there, keep working and keep finding a way. I just have to keep focusing on my job and, yeah, just find a way to do it.

And as far as not starting Thursday, “It’s part of it. It gives me a chance to regroup and come back. Just do it. Find a way. No excuses.”

(Photo by Jordan Binnington: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)


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