Sunday, May 22, 2022

Blues ready to move on, not focus energy on Kadri

Colorado forward at focus of collision that knocked Binnington out for 
series with lower-body injury; Blues focused on winning, not revenge

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- Brayden Schenn had that look in his eye when asked the question.

The veteran Blues center was asked if he felt if Nazem Kadri, at the crux of the collision that knocked Blues goalie Jordan Binnington out of the remainder of the Western Conference second round series against the Colorado Avalanche, knew what he was doing even if there was no deliberate attempt to target Binnington.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (middle) said the Blues are focused on trying
to win, not gain revenge on Colorado's Nazem Kadri.

"You know what you're doing, yeah," Schenn said.

To which Robert Bortuzzo was also asked.

"You ask any player, a guy like that knows what he's doing there," the Blues defenseman said.

For a refresher, it was at the 6:45 mark of the first period when Binnington made a save on Artturi Lehkonen's shot. The rebound lay in the slot and both Kadri and Blues defenseman Calle Rosen were converging into Binnington's crease.

Kadri, who claimed after Colorado's 5-2 win that he was pushed into Binnington by Rosen, which clearly wasn't the case, and Rosen went crashing into the Blues netminder, causing Binnington's lower-body injury and unavoidable departure from the game.

The play has received plenty of local and national attention, and rightfully so, and everyone can have an opinion on what exactly happened. Where Kadri, a repeat offender to suspendable offenses throughout his career, including a blatant head shot on Justin Faulk during last year's first-round series against the Avalanche, put himself in line to get scrutinized when he claimed that Rosen pushed him into Binnington.

"I just think from his comments, he said that he got pushed and he’s behind our guy, so I don’t know how that makes sense," Schenn said. "But we’ll move on and worry about winning a hockey game."

The Blues didn't retaliate during the game, as coach coach Craig Berube felt the need to focus on one individual isn't worth it. 

"No. Nope, we're here to win," Berube said. "That's it. Just go try to win.

"It is what it is. We'll move on."

And that's what the Blues, down 2-1 in the series with Game 4 looming on Monday, have to do is move on. They won't have Binnington, who was 4-1 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in starting the previous five games, including the first-round series against Minnesota.

"Obviously you lose a guy, you know your team's going to be upset about it," Berube said. "... He's not happy. He was playing great hockey and he wants to be in there and help us win. So any time a player gets hurt from a situation, he's not going to be happy about it, but they're competitive guys; they want to play, and now he can't."

The Blues have dealt with adversity before. Remember handpass-gate in 2019 of Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against San Jose? The Blues responded with three straight wins to take that series. 

It's a different set of circumstances of course losing a player, but Berube already has the players thinking move on.

“Yeah, it all starts at the top with the leader and he’s our voice in the room," Schenn said. "We respect everything he says. He’s good at channeling energy the right way. Like I said, you can worry about the play and let it frustrate you - who’s in goal and this and that - but at the end of the day it’s about winning a hockey game and that’s all you can focus on."

But it's sometimes hard to overlook the obvious.

"Of course. I'm sure a lot of guys (wanted to retaliate)," defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. "But our focus is on winning the series. I think that would be kind of misplacing a lot of our energy and I think we like where our groups at, where we’re competing at a really high level. So I think that's where we're going to focus our attention."

Binnington was playing at the highest level he's played at since winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, so it's tough not for his teammates to feel bad for him.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Ville Husso will start Game 4 for the Blues against the Colorado Avalanche
after the injury to Jordan Binnington in Game 3.

"It's a tough loss," Bortuzzo said. 'You know, we're not going to sugarcoat that, but at the same time, we have a guy who has been great for us all year and I'm sure he's excited to get in there and step up for us. As for the play, we're not going to talk about it too much. You ask any player there who's played the game, you assume a guy knows what he's doing. But having said that, we're not going to misplace anywhere the energy moving forward here. We're just trying to win the series."

"He’s playing good hockey for us," Schenn said of Binnington. "Came in and got his mojo back and his swagger back. Feel for him. Obviously unfortunate injury and at the same time we have full confidence in Ville. Both guys have had the net at times this year and both guys are very capable of winning hockey games. We’re looking forward to seeing what Ville can do and when he’s in the net, we’re just as confident with 'Binner' there and just got to play hard in front of them."

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