It wasn’t long since Jordan Bennington was withdrawn after 13 minutes of an early April game in Edmonton after allowing four goals on 13 shots.
Visibly frustrated Craig Beerop said after that contest that Bennington simply needed to play better. Birubi’s patience seemed to run out with the goalkeeper who had won the Stanley Cup just three years earlier with the Blues.
Well, look at what has happened to Bennington since Edmonton. He made 7-1-0, regained the No. 1 guard position, and with his Game 4 and 5 wins against the Minnesota Wild earned the Blues in one win by taking the first-round series.
In the aftermath of that collapse in Edmonton. …
“Behner, a man of accountability,” Behrop said Wednesday, after the Blues’ 5-2 win Tuesday at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. At the time, he knew he might have to play better. I expressed my confidence in him and the team.”
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Here we are. Just when it looked like Bennington was running out of opportunities – and may have hit rock bottom – did he reassert himself at the hottest time of the year.
The Blues goalkeeper’s position has seen more twists and turns this season than suspense. So who knows what awaits us?
But suddenly Bennington looks more like the goalkeeper who led the Blues to the cup in 2019, than the man who lost nine consecutive games after the season ended. Or the guy who gave up four or more goals in six of eight matches over a two-month period from mid-December to mid-February.
At the moment, in the midst of an intense playoff battle with the high-goal Minnesota team, he doesn’t seem to be afraid of this moment.
“No, it doesn’t look like that,” said Birubi. “Like I said, he is a very calm and wonderful client. He doesn’t let too much get in. He has a lot of confidence.”
You can have experts break down the technique, or sports psychologists analyze Bennington’s state of mind. But it might not be that complicated.
Because one game in his current 7-1-0 extension, Bennington switched to the dark goalkeeper podiums. They seem more, uh, threatening. So nearly all of his hot streak coincides with wearing dark pads.
nations. Beerop says he is not a superstitious person.
“No, not really. I have no idea about these things,” Pyrop said with a laugh.
But if Binnington wants to go back to his old, lighter towel. Will Beerop tell him to continue in the dark?
“Yes, probably,” Birubi said with a smile.
Although things are back to normal, media access is not back to pre-COVID levels with the blues. So chances of interviewing Binnington haven’t been as frequent this season.
And when he met the media, Bennington wasn’t his old-fashioned fun. He has been more serious as he is focused on restoring his career on solid foundations. Remember, it wasn’t long ago that rumors circulated that the Blues were shopping Bennington before the trade deadline. General Manager Doug Armstrong has categorically denied the rumors.
Anyway, after stopping 28 of 30 shots in a 5-2 Game 4 win over Minnesota on Sunday, Bennington was asked if he would continue to wear the dark pads.
“Okay,” he said, standing from his seat at the interview table after the match, ending the media session.
Several days after that Edmonton game in April, Beerup and Bennington met with ice pre-training at the Centene Community Ice Center and talked about things. Beerup said he wanted to speak to Bennington; And that Bennington wanted to talk to him.
After that, the two generally only talked about the nature of their conversation. But having only started twice over a 12-game span from March 14 through April 8, Binnington has been used a lot at the bottom of the sprawl.
He has started six of the last 11 regular season games, including back-to-back contests on April 21 in San Jose and April 23 in Arizona. This was the first time Bennington had started back-to-back games since January 1 (Winter Classic vs. Minnesota) and January 5 (in Pittsburgh).
“He deserved the beginnings,” Birubi said. “Plus, we used both guards all year long. He needed work. … That was our plan.”
Whatever the reason, the plan has worked so far in the post-season. Although Ville Husso took the first bite of the apple in the playoffs, and deserved it based on his typical off-season play, Binnington’s late-season workload honed his post-season — just in case.
“Just in case” reached three games into the series after Husso allowed five and four goals, respectively, in his Game 2 and 3 loss to Wild. With the Blues dropping in two games to one, Bennington held 56 from 60 shots in winning games 4 and 5.
And who knows how many wild shots he blocked by slipping out of the net and playing the ball skillfully before Kirill Kaprizov & Co got there.
“You can treat it as a third man in defense when he plays with confidence, plays head-to-head and moves the disc,” said striker Brandon Saad. “He does good readings, handles disk really well and any time you have that, he’s going to help you.”