Jordan Binnington has been one of the biggest surprises for the Providence Bruins this season.
But don’t expect to see him in Boston if either Tuukka Rask or Anton Khudobin get injured.
Actually, Binnington is waiting for a chance, but is currently being blocked by Jake Allen and Carter Hutton.
Confused? Yep I was too when I started researching the 24-year-old Providence goaltender.
Binnington has been spectacular as a backup goaltender for the P-Bruins this season. He is 7-1-1 with a 1.74 GAA – which would be third in the AHL if he had started enough games to qualify for stats – and made headlines last Saturday for a goalie “fight” (with a former teammate) that broke out during a line brawl:
— Tattoo-Bob (@TattooBobMcHugh) December 17, 2017
Binnington has routinely outplayed Zane McIntyre, who has been solid in net but has taken a step back after an absurd 2016-17 season (21-6-4, 2.03 GAA, .930 save %), so seeing the 2011 third-round pick in St. Louis wouldn’t be out of the question this season.
Nope, I didn’t make an egregious typo, and spell check didn’t replace Providence with St. Louis (though that wouldn’t be the worst replacement it’s ever made). Jordan Binnington is actually property of the St. Louis Blues. So how in the world is he playing for the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate?
There are 30 teams in the AHL, and with the addition of the Las Vegas Golden Knights this season, that makes 31 NHL teams. St. Louis’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, reached a deal to become the Golden Knights’ farm team in the offseason, which left the Blues and their entire minor-league roster with no place to play (they reached an agreement with the San Antonio Rampage – who are the Colorado Avalanche’s current AHL team – which starts next year). The Blues have loaned players to other clubs around the league, but have no say on the ice time or development of their players now that they are technically with other organizations.
So even though Binnington has likely earned more time in net for Providence, there’s really no advantage to the P-Bruins playing him over someone who they would like to develop into a goaltending option for the near future.
Although he’s only seeing the ice once a week to give McIntyre a breather, Binnington has excelled, winning his last five starts while allowing two or fewer goals in each of those games. And even though there were no actual punches thrown in that fight last weekend, it definitely brought more eyes and attention to the backup goalie that is shining for the Providence Bruins and the St. Louis Blues.
Providence brought their seven-game winning streak into Hershey last Wednesday night for their first or two encounters with the Bears. Although they were outshot in every period, the P-Bruins were the only team to find the back of the net in a 3-0 victory over Hershey to begin their lengthy eight-game road swing. McIntyre stopped all 28 shots he faced to earn his first shutout of the season in net, while third period goals from Anton Blidh and Zach Senyshyn gave the B’s the breathing room they needed after a tight first 47 minutes of play. Providence got on the board in the first, as Colton Hargrove notched his eighth goal of the season on the power play with 5:06 remaining. The score remained at 1-0 until the 13:05 mark of the third, when Hargrove earned his second point of the night assisting on Blidh’s fourth goal of the year. Senyshyn added his fourth goal of the year just 90 seconds later to put the icing on the cake and give the B’s their 17th win in 25 games played.
Friday night was one of the most highly anticipated games in the AHL this season, with Providence bringing their eight-game winning streak into Syracuse to face the Crunch, who were 9-0-0 in their last nine contests. A wild first period, which saw six goals including three in a 1:26 span, ended with Syracuse holding a two-goal advantage that Providence could not overcome. The 5-3 loss was the B’s first defeat since an 8-2 thrashing from the Charlotte Checkers on November 25th. Blidh and Senyshyn tallied goals for Providence, with Josh Hennessy capping the quick three-goal fury that began the game, as Blidh, Syracuse’s Carter Verhaeghe, and Hennessy all scored in the first 3:39. McIntyre allowed three straight goals later in the first period, and suffered his first loss since giving up all eight Checkers’ goals last month.
Saturday night’s game with the Bears had everything: a bunch of offense, a line fight that ended with 67 total PIM and two goalies being given game misconducts (love seeing 17 PIM next to a goalie’s name in the box score!), and ten Providence players earning points in their 6-2 win that hopefully kicks off another winning streak. The P-Bruins scored four goals in the first 26 minutes of play, which clearly set off the Bears, since the line fight broke out just 17 seconds after winger Adam Payerl made it 4-0. Hershey responded with two special teams goals in the second, but both Tommy Cross and Senyshyn lit the lamp in the third to ruin the Bears’ comeback attempt. Kenny Agostino, Austin Czarnik, and Jordan Szwarz all scored in the first for Providence, with five of the six goal scorers also adding assists for multi-point nights.
Although they are not playing at home for another two weeks, the P-Bruins do get a little break with the schedule this week, as they have five days off before a two-night trip to both Hartford and Springfield. Providence (18-7-2) travels to Hartford on Friday night for their second road encounter of the year with the Wolf Pack. The B’s are 2-0-0 against Hartford (11-12-6) this season, including a 5-0 shutout win on the road on November 4th. They move on to Springfield on Saturday night to face the Thunderbirds (awesome name by the way) for the fifth time this season. Providence won the first three encounters, including back-to-back road games to begin the season, but Springfield (12-18-1) dealt the B’s a 4-3 overtime loss in their last matchup on November 12th.