The St. Louis Blues have had to rely on several minor league call-ups amidst a stretch in which it seems like every first-team player has been placed in COVID protocol. With a half-depleted lineup in any given game, the Blues have continued to march on and have collected at least a point in nine out of their last ten games. While contributions have come from all over the place, perhaps nobody has made a greater impact on the team than goaltender Charlie Lindgren. After being waived by the Blues at the end of training camp and subsequently clearing waivers and reporting to the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL, Lindgren received his call-up to the show when Jordan Binnington was placed in COVID protocol. After a lower-body injury sidelined the usual backup goaltender Ville Husso, Lindgren came in for his Blues debut and has looked the part ever since. Through four starts and five games overall, Lindgren has posted a 5-0-0 record (becoming the first St. Louis goaltender to achieve that feat to start their Blues career) along with a minuscule 1.22 goals-against average and an impressive .958 save percentage.
Do the Blues have an impending goaltending controversy?
Now that Binnington has returned from COVID protocol, it’s safe to assume that the net will be given back to him. The Stanley Cup-winning goalie is in the first year of a six-year contract extension that locked him into being the Blues’ #1 goaltender for the foreseeable future. However, with Lindgren playing this well, it’s certainly a tough decision for head coach Craig Berube to make a change in the net. While logic and history say that Lindgren’s numbers will regress to the mean, in a tightly contested Central Division in which every point matters, it almost feels like you have to ride the hot hand until it is no longer hot. But that’s only half of the problem. Eventually, Husso will be ready to return from injury and will be expected to be back on the active roster. In his second year in the NHL, Husso has looked sharp early on this season and it would be unfair to him to make him the odd man out once he is healthy enough to play again. Perhaps Lindgren will regress enough to the point where he gets sent back to Springfield without much of a fuss. At twenty-eight years old, Lindgren is no spring chicken and has had opportunities in the NHL previously with the Montreal Canadiens. He started the season fourth on the team depth chart behind Binnington, Husso, and Joel Hofer. So perhaps this recent run of form is nothing but a blip on the radar. However, if this magical run continues, something will have to give and some tough roster decisions will have to be made. After all, the Blues have had recent success after giving the reigns to a fourth-string goaltender halfway through the season.
Like Binnington, Lindgren has also become a fan-favorite in St. Louis with his general demeanor and humor during interviews. Starting a post-game interview with an everyman response like “frickin’ eh” certainly got the fans excited at Enterprise Center. With the haircut and facial hair straight out of the 1970s, the man the fans have affectionately nicknamed “Chucky Sideburns” has been entertaining on and off the ice during his short stint in St. Louis. How long this love affair between city and goaltender lasts, only time will tell. For now, Blues fans should just sit back and enjoy the ride.
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