Wicked on and off the ice, the Blues-Avalanche series is gaining momentum
This epic battle has reached the attrition stage, with two key pieces landing on the sidelines.
With much of the focus on these injuries and the potential impact they could have on this Central Division playoff series and beyond, some verbal jabs have been thrown, the reputation of one of the main fighters was questioned and Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri had a water bottle thrown at him as he gave a postgame interview on TNT.
Oh, and did we mention that the individual who allegedly threw the aforementioned water bottle in his direction was none other than injured St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington?
With so much going on off the ice, it’s important to remember that it was the Avalanche who found the final roundhouse in this Western Conference heavyweight battle, taking a lead of 2-1 in the series after a 5-2 triumph Saturday night at Enterprise Center.
In the Burgundian corner, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar announced that defenseman Sam Girard was lost to the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a broken sternum, the result of a jarring check by ‘Ivan Barbashev which happened less than two minutes into Game 3.
In the blue corner, Blues head coach Craig Berube said it was too early to say when – or if – Binnington would be able to return from what appeared to be a knee injury after a collision involving his teammate Calle Rosen and Kadri at only 6 years old. :45 in the first period.
But that didn’t stop Berube from throwing a not-so-subtle shot at Kadri when asked for his opinion on the play in question.
“Look at Kadri’s reputation,” Berube told reporters in St. Louis. “That’s all I have to say.”
Berube went on to say that Binnington was being evaluated and wouldn’t know much about the severity of the injury until at least Sunday, saying only it was a lower body issue. .
Was he surprised that there was no call for Kadri for goalkeeper interference on the play?
“I don’t know. It’s not up to me,” Bérubé said.
Are the rules of the game not established to protect the goalkeeper?
“Yeah, they are,” said Berube, who clearly wasn’t interested in saying anything that could result in a fine. “Look. Obviously nobody likes what happened. It’s part of hockey and you have other people who have to step in and step in and do that job.
Based on how Binnington went onto the ice after Kadri chased a rebound near the blue paint – and how his right knee bent when he tried to work his way through his routine. warming up when Blues head athletic coach Ray Barile came on the ice to check on him – it’s probably safe to assume the net belongs to Ville Husso for the foreseeable future.
As for the blow that knocked Girard out, Bednar confessed he didn’t like his real-time appearance, but his opinion changed after seeing him again.
“You know, I didn’t like seeing him live. Come to think of it, it’s a heavy collision, (Barbashev) kind of comes in and he just catches him in a bad place,” Bednar told reporters. “He sort of comes in from the head side, but he has a lot of body there. (Girard) was turned the wrong way and he entered awkwardly. It was a big check. Too bad, but to be honest, I think it was a legal check.
Bednar was caught a bit off guard when Bérubé’s comment about Kadri’s reputation was relayed to him on the podium.
“Reputation means nothing. It’s either legal gambling or it’s not, you know. We spoke with Naz (Kadri) about it and how he is trying to change his reputation,” Bednar said. “Their D (Rosen) and Naz, they’re both going for a loose puck that’s on top of the crease. (Kadri) came downhill as hard as he could. Both guys go in there, they both go after the puck the same way and they collide before going in. Again, unhappy, like Girard for me. It’s a legal game and you know, it’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.
Kadri is no stranger to being Public Enemy No. 1 in a series and he’s already not popular with Blues fans, thanks in part to his illegal bodychecking at the head of defenseman Justin Faulk in the 2021 playoffs which led to an eight-game suspension.
“Obviously there’s some animosity between the Blues fanbase, maybe the team, and him. But he definitely elevates his game in those environments,” Avalanche forward Logan said. O’Connor, who was inserted on the fourth line and scored an important goal that tied the game in the first period: “He kind of relishes it. When the whole arena is booing you, you suddenly improve your game.” safe.
As for the topic of Water Bottle Gate, Kadri didn’t seem bothered by it at all.
“Yeah. I think it was Binnington, but I was kind of stuck, so…you should ask him,” Kadri said. “I was doing the interview, so I wasn’t quite sure. But yes, I think it was him. I don’t know. I don’t know for sure.
“From my point of view, it’s nothing personal. I just go out there to try and win and compete and if people take it personally, it’s on them. For me, what happens on the ice kind of stays on the ice. I’m a competitor, I want to win and that’s it.
Kadri didn’t know why some people suggested he intentionally met Binnington.
“I just see a loose puck, really. He was kind of just sitting behind him and I just tried to push him with my stick. I think their defender (Rosen) collided with me and pushed me towards (Binnington),” said Kadri, who added an assist on an Artturii Lehkonen goal and had six points in seven games. . “If it hadn’t been for that, I don’t think I would have hit him at all. It’s a loose puck, I’m just trying to push it down. »
Losing Binnington is a blow for the Blues as he had been brilliant in this series, stopping 84 of 88 shots on goal for a .955 save percentage.
Not only did he look like the guy who led the Blues to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2019, but the scary thing is you could argue he was playing even better until that he gets hurt.
“Obviously Binner is heart and soul, playing amazing,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “I think (the injury) kind of took the momentum away and took us a little too long to get it going again. Things like that happened. We are a deep team and we could have done a better job of regaining momentum and adjusting.
Husso’s stat line wasn’t flattering (four goals on 21 shots on goal) in just over 51 minutes of relief, but that last scorer he allowed came after he rushed to return towards the goal as he went in favor of an extra striker late in the game.
Husso, a pending unrestricted free agent, has had a great season and will need to play like he did when he took the starting job for the Blues after Binnington went through a rough patch.
As for the Avalanche, they survived an uneven start where nervousness seemed to be a factor according to Bednar, but they got an exceptional effort from the five defensemen who remained after Girard was eliminated from the contest.
All of Devon Toews, Josh Manson, Bowen Byram and Erik Johnson did their part, but Cale Makar really made his presence felt in this one – and not just because he picked up his first point of the series, assisting on fire green goal from Kadri at 13:38 of the second period.
Makar found his skating legs and had a huge impact on the result, jumping in the rush on numerous occasions, finishing with a shot on goal and nine shot attempts while logging just under 29 minutes of ice time .
“Cale doesn’t need his legs. He has his head and he has his hands,” Kadri said. “Obviously he’s a miracle skater and he who skates at 50% is probably better than most. He’s such a mature kid at his age and whether he feels it or not, he’s going to get the job done. That’s just the kind of person he is.