Jordan Binnington’s storybook trip from fourth stringer to Stanley Cup-winning goaltender was fueled by a number of free meals.

The perfect got here final weekend at Brio Tuscan Grille, considered one of his favourite spots as St. Louis started to really feel like residence.

“They had been good to me,” Binnington mentioned.

Binnington has been so good for the Blues that followers of the long-suffering franchise may by no means let him pay for one more meal once more. Drafted within the third spherical, shuffled to the underside of the Blues’ goalie chart and even farmed out to Boston’s prime minor league affiliate, Binnington’s comeback is one for the ages: The 25-year-old rookie led the Blues from lifeless final within the NHL to the primary championship in franchise historical past.

He turned out to be the right backstop for the bruising Blues, a quiet anchor to rally round for a six-month run to the title. There was nowhere to go however up.

“It is actually cool,” the soft-spoken Toronto-area native mentioned. “I perceive it is a good story. However I’ll recognize it later.”

Binnington spoke not lengthy after a Four-1 victory over the Bruins in Sport 7 on Wednesday night time. Surprised to be standing there with the Stanley Cup, Binnington questioned aloud, “I can not imagine we’re right here now?”

He led them right here. Starting with a shutout in his first NHL begin Jan. 7 in Philadelphia, Binnington went 24-5-1 with a 1.83 goals-against common and a .930 save share.

“The primary sport he will get a shutout in Philly and also you’re hoping,” normal supervisor Doug Armstrong mentioned. “You retain watching and questioning, ‘Is that this actual?’ Water normally finds its degree. Effectively, his water degree may be very excessive. I might say you are into mid-February and March and he is a rock of our crew. … He is a well-deserving champion.”

St. Louis’ run coincided with Binnington’s arrival and concluded with him stopping 32 pictures in Sport 7. Coach Craig Berube known as it Binnington’s greatest sport of the collection.

“(He is a) nice goaltender,” Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly mentioned. “If we maintain (pictures) to the skin, he will be making these saves.”

Making saves with out wanting flashy is what Binnington does greatest. He is not frantic in his play and exudes confidence that O’Reilly believes flows to the remainder of the crew.

“This group simply received nearer and nearer as we went on,” Binnington mentioned. “They welcomed me in nicely and I simply tried to do my job, battle and maintain my mouth shut.”

Exhibiting simply what number of elder Blues gamers hadn’t gained the Cup, Binnington was the 14th participant to obtain the trophy after captain Alex Pietrangelo handed it off. That is hockey, and everybody on the roster is aware of Binnington led the way in which when it mattered. He went 7-2 within the playoffs following a loss and earned an amazing quantity of respect from teammates for a way he dealt with a lot time within the minors earlier than getting up to now.

“He hasn’t been given the best hand. He hasn’t been given a straightforward path to get right here,” veteran Blues defenseman Chris Butler mentioned. “He is put his head down and continued to work. It has been enjoyable to observe. I at all times had an concept that he was a reasonably good goaltender. I might by no means have been capable of predict this. I believe lots of people had been anticipating him to falter.”

Not Binnington, even when he was fourth string within the St. Louis group as just lately as coaching camp.

Butler at all times sensed confidence oozing from Binnington, who famously requested early in his run, “Do I look nervous?”

He by no means actually did.

“He is at all times been extraordinarily assured in himself, and that is what you have to love a few goaltender,” Butler mentioned. “You are feeling just like the crew type of takes on that persona when he steps into the crease.”

Binnington’s quiet confidence and skill to steal video games had been key to the Blues climbing from final place to the highest of the hockey world. Sport 7 was an ideal instance: He made 12 saves within the first interval to maintain the Bruins off the board and permit his teammates to lastly crack dominant playoff goalie Tuukka Rask.

“He shut the door,” middle Tyler Bozak mentioned. “He made unimaginable saves and gave us that confidence that he was dialed in, like he was all 12 months. Simply to get that first aim was type of a aid, and we constructed from there.”

Binnington was nothing if not resilient. He went 13-2 following a loss this season.

“Stuff’s going to occur,” Binnington mentioned. “You are going to undergo adversity, proper? And that is the way you deal with it.”

Binnington is grateful for the free grub however all spring has been reluctant to dwell on his rags-to-riches story. Do not count on any grand proclamations now about his street, his run and the way he made this inconceivable championship occur.

“It has been good,” Binnington mentioned. “I have been having fun with it.”

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Observe AP Hockey Author Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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Extra AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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