ST. LOUIS — The Blues will be opening up their hopeful run to another Stanley Cup without the man in goal who helped them to their first.
Blues Head Coach Craig Berube made the expected news official on Monday that goaltender Ville Husso would get starter duties for Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild, instead of the team's starter for the past three postseasons, Jordan Binnington.
Husso had the better year of the tandem, going 25-7-6 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 40 regular-season games. His save percentage was the sixth-highest of any goaltender in the NHL this season.
Binnington went 18-14-4 with a 3.13 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 37 regular-season games.
The Blues are confident in their 27-year-old Finnish netminder, even though Husso has never played in a postseason game before Monday night.
"He's played in some real big games for us this year and done a great job. He's gotten better and better as the year went along. He's been consistent all year and he's just got to go and do what he's done," Berube said on Monday. "Nothing really changes. I know it's the playoffs, but he just has to go play his game and do what he's done."
In the playoffs, calming the nerves can be one of the most important things for success. Husso's teammates said he should have no problem with that.
"He's just calm. He's a calm guy. That's probably the trait I can give," Blues defenseman Justin Faulk said when asked about what makes Husso ready for this moment. "Nothing seems to phase him too much. On and off the ice, it's kind of the same demeanor. That's why, I guess, I wouldn't expect anything different from him tonight."
Of course, the Blues aren't strangers to putting their faith in untested goaltenders in the playoffs. Binnington was an unknown rookie in 2019 before he took the reins and guided the franchise to its first-ever Stanley Cup.
But that set of circumstances isn't necessarily something Berube and company are drawing inspiration from.
"We don't really look to the past on that. That's in the past. You go on what you're feeling now more than anything. We look back and Binner was an inexperienced goalie back then too and came in and did a great job for us. But again, it's about the team. It's not just about one player. We need a real team effort here to be successful and that's what we're going off of. It's about the team," Berube said.
The Blues will face the Wild in Game 1 of the opening round on Monday night at 8:30 on Bally Sports Midwest. The Wild will host the first two games of the best-of-7 series before it shifts to the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.