As mentioned plenty already and by Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on Wednesday, the Bruins have a unique scouting report on St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington since Binnington played for the Providence Bruins in the AHL last season, on loan from the Blues since they didn’t have an AHL affiliate at the time. Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk may have only spent a bit of time with Binnington in Providence during the 2017-18 season, but he has been watching the rookie goalie’s rise to stardom from afar and isn’t shocked at how well Binnington has handled the pressure and spotlight.
“I mean, I didn’t get too much of a stint with him, but it’s been pretty cool to watch and see how far he’s come,” said Grzelcyk who played 14 games in Providence last season, but only a handful with Binnington who went 17-9-0 with a 2.05 GAA and .926 save percentage in 28 games with the Baby B’s.
Starting Monday in Game 1 though, Grzelcyk won’t be a fan or friend of the Conn Smythe Trophy candidate and arguably the most significant reason the Blues are in their first Stanley Cup Final in 49 years. The Bruins second-year blueliner is already brainstorming ways to do what the San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets couldn’t do consistently in the first three rounds of the playoffs and that’s crack Binnington.
“We’re going to need to get in front of his eyes and not let him get square to pucks,” said Grzelcyk.
The problem is that even if the Bruins can get around the Great Wall Of China-like Blues blue line and create some chaos down in front of Binnington, the Calder Trophy favorite has shown that he simply doesn’t get phased by much. Even if it’s celebratory chaos, Binnnington very often resembles an emotionless robot as witnessed when the Blues clinched the Western Conference.
“Yeah, I kind of remember that,” Grzelcyk said. “It’s pretty cool to see when your goalie makes a big save and he kind of makes it look easy. You can kind of sense when he’s in a zone.
Grzelcyk knows that with Binnington between the pipes in the zone he’s in and with that Blues defense, this series is not going to be as easy for the Bruins as some are making it out to be.
“It’s going to be tough,” the Charlestown, MA native said. “Obviously they’ve got a lot of big bodies. I think we’re at our best when we’ve got our skating game and hopefully, we can use our legs to create separation in the O zone especially. You don’t want to get bottled up against kind of a big d-core and big forward, so we gotta make sure we move it out there.”