Sunday, May 22, 2022

Blues lose momentum, game against Avs with Binnington injury

Goalie sustains lower-body injury, speculated to be a knee injury, after 
collision with own defenseman Rosen, Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri

ST. LOUIS -- It was kind of the start the Blues were looking for in front of a raucous home crowd, in Game 3, in a series even at 1-1.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington sprawls to make a save against the Colorado
Avalanche in Game 1 last Tuesday. Binnington was injured in Game 3 on
Saturday after a collision involving Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri (91).

And then, the collision, the injury, the hush in the crowd, and ultimately, the game.

It happened at 6:45 of the first period, when persistent rule breaker Nazem Kadri -- whether he intends to or not, always finds himself in messy situations -- and Blues defenseman Calle Rosen converged on the net and collided with goalie Jordan Binnington.

In the aftermath, a 1-0 lead at the time of the Binnington injury in the end turned into a 5-2 loss to the Avalanche Saturday in the Western Conference second round at Enterprise Center, giving Colorado a 2-1 series lead.

There was a loose puck on the play in front of Binnington after he made a save on Artturi Lehkonen, and as Rosen and Kadri converged on Binnington, both crashed into him in the net. 

Kadri claimed after the game that, "I think their defenseman kind of collided with me and pushed me into him."


While it can be debated whether there was a penalty there or not, and former league official Don Koharski said on the TNT national broadcast that it was a legal play.

OK, so be it, but Kadri, who has a rap sheet of infractions throughout his career, first of all, told a boldface lie when he claimed he got pushed in by, one assumes he meant Rosen, since it was Rosen that was between he and Binnington, but this has remnants of Nick Kypreos on Grant Fuhr all over again. 

Remember 1996, when Kypreos, playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, was bumped by Chris Pronger and took the chance to flop on top of Fuhr, knocking the Blues goalie out of the game and the playoffs?

Kadri knew there was a moment to push the envelope there, and why wouldn't he? Why not take a calculated risk of knocking a guy out of the series, at the very least, who was throttling the Avalanche in the series?

Binnington came into the game stopping 81 of 85 shots in the series, and he was 4-1 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .943 save percentage since taking over for Ville Husso in Game 4 of the first round against Minnesota.

Heck, Avs forward Valeri Nichushkin crashed into Binnington in Game 2 trying to knock the Blues goalie off his rocker and rattle/shake him up. 

Binnington would eventually get to his skates after being attended to by head athletic trainer Ray Barile. He tried to shake the injury off, moving side to side, but then when he went down in a leg bent position, there was obvious discomfort. 

That was it.

As badly as Binnington wanted to remain in the game, the body said no.

"I’m sure he wanted to stay in, and he did the best he could," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "It wasn’t the case."

The crowd, booing Kadri when replays were shown at every angle, became concerned, the Blues were shellshocked, and the game would turn on end.

"It's always tough," Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly said. "Obviously Binner's the heart and soul, playing unbelievable, but I think it kind of took the momentum away and took us a little too long to kind of get it back going again. Things like that happened. We're a deep team and we could have done a better job of getting the momentum back and adjusting.

"I'm sure the league will review and see. It's an unfortunate play 'Binner' gets hurt. It's unfortunate."

This was the same Kadri that in last season's first-round sweep of the Blues, cheap-shot Justin Faulk in the open ice and was suspended for it. So although the crimes of Kadri's past were more heinous that this one and can be debated as borderline legal/illegal, the intention was there, on purpose or not.

To make matters worse, or add salt to the wound, Kadri would score a goal and have an assist in Game 3.

"Look at Kadri’s reputation," a frustrated Berube said. "That’s all I got to say."

That's enough.

Husso entered the game, the same Husso that started the playoffs for the Blues but sat as the backup the past six games.

The Blues had to pick themselves up, but it was obvious, their play dropped and their energy-level wasn't the same. And the Avalanche knew it.

They would go on to score three unanswered goals before O'Reilly scored but couldn't make the push in the third before the Avs scored two garbage empty-net goals late to retake the series.

"Obviously I think for us, it's our focus to get back and help out and be an option for those goalies at all times obviously," said Blues defenseman Colton Parayko, who put the Blues on the board at 3:55 of the first period. "They're both good puck-handlers and both move the puck well. Just fortunate to have two good goalies back there."

Husso allowed four goals on 23 shots, one as he was attempting to leave the net for an extra attacker but the timing was thrown off when the Blues lost possession of the puck, but the game seemed to slip away when the Blues' top netminder and playoff rock couldn't hold his fort no more.

"Yeah, maybe a little bit at the start, but then as soon as Ville came in, it ramped right back up," Parayko said. "I don't know, kind of like we touched on it earlier, we have two real good goalies and Husso's been unbelievable for us all year long. More than confident obviously with both of them. That's the beauty of those two. Two great goalies keep us in every single game, gives us a chance to win, and that's all we can ask for."

Berube also felt the loss of Binnington didn't affect the team.

"Not much," he said. "I thought for a little bit but not very long. I thought (Husso) played a good game.

"It’s a tough situation. I thought he did the job. We were right there. We had chances. We had a lot of good looks tonight. We didn’t score enough goals. Good chances, we didn’t execute on our chances.

"Listen, obviously nobody likes what happened. That’s part of hockey and you got other people that need to come in and step up and do that job."

It appears, unless there's a miracle cure for Binnington, that it will be Husso's net for the foreseeable future, and the Blues will have to recall a goalie -- perhaps the legend of 'Chuckie Sideburns' will be cast upon St. Louis again -- to help fill the void.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (right) talks to goalie Ville Husso when
he enters into Game 3 after an injury to Jordan Binnington

Either way, the Avalanche, who lost defenseman Samuel Girard for the rest of the playoffs/season when he was crunched by an Ivan Barbashev check that resulted in a broken sternum, have grabbed the series back in their favor.

All thanks to Kadri, who also claimed he didn't mean to injure Faulk either. Just like when he didn't mean to cross-check Boston's Jake DeBrusk in the face in 2019. Just like when he didn't mean to run Wild goalie Nicklas Backstrom in 2013 that cost him three games. Just like he didn't mean to hurt Edmonton's Matt Fraser in 2015 for a check to the head. Just like when he didn't mean to cross-check Detroit's Luke Glendening in the face in 2016. Just like when he didn't mean to low bridge Washington's Alex Ovechkin in 2017.

Yep, such a misunderstood soul. 

Kadri got eight games for the Faulk head shot. He'll probably skate away from this one without suspension, not that one was warranted. But the job was done, especially if Binnington is done.

After the game when Kadri was doing his interview on TNT, he alleged that Binnington walked by and threw a water bottle at him.

When he was finished, Kadri is likely laughing to the next round.

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