Jordan Binnington gaining confidence during record streak
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By early January it was fair to question whether Jordan Binnington was going to challenge for the starting spot in the Wolves net. He had been pulled in consecutive starts after allowing eight goals in 39 shots and seemed to have lost the No. 1 job to veteran Matt Climie.
Now, the thought of Binnington getting stuck to the bench seems funny.
Sunday’s 5-2 loss to San Antonio was Binnington’s franchise-record 15th consecutive start. Though it wasn’t his or the Wolves’ best game – he was replaced in the middle of the third period after allowing four goals on 25 shots – it’s part of an unlikely and impressive stretch for the 21-year-old rookie.
With Climie out with a lower-body injury, the Blues’ third-round pick in the 2011 draft took over. During the streak, he’s 8-5-2 with one shutout, a 2.29 goals-against average and .921 save percentage, showing a level of production and durability few saw coming.
Other than the Wolves.
“That’s what we expect of him. He came in really highly touted and he did his work last year in the (ECHL) and he came up and played a game for us – played really well,” coach John Anderson said. “We were expecting him to take the bull by the horns and he’s done it.”
Over the last 15 games Binnington’s been asked if the workload’s been getting to him. His answer has stayed consistent – that the breaks between games and the way the Wolves staff has handled him have kept him fresh.
“That’s what you train for all summer long and all year long when you’re not playing,” Binnington said. “You just want these opportunities to give your team a chance to win night in, night out. Personally, it’s feeling good. There’s ample time to rest. It’s been all right.”
At 21, it wouldn’t have been a knock against Binnington if he couldn’t handle this much work. He’d only played in two AHL games before this season and is only in his second year out of junior hockey.
That’s something Anderson stressed, saying “it’s really a pleasure to find a goalie” who can do what Binnington has this early in his career.
“Forwards take a certain amount of time, (defensemen) take longer and goalies take even longer. It’s just a progression,” Anderson said. “It’s like going from pee-wee to bantam to midget to junior, and he’s growing that way. Jake Allen, look what happened to him. It’s taken him four years and now he’s there. It’s a process. It’s not just instantly hand somebody a ticket to the NHL.”
Binnington isn’t there yet, and with Climie back it wouldn’t be a shock to see the pair split time going forward. But Binnington has experienced something that will be valuable to him for the rest of his career.
“It gives you a little confidence and playing these games gives you experience. They say you need experience to get where you want to be. I’m just trying to take it all in and at the same time take advantage of it,” Binnington said. “You want to have that job and you want to be the guy in there giving the team a chance to win every night. I’m just trying to keep rolling with it.”