Well Saturday night hockey in St. Louis sure was eventful and the crew of Wes McCauley, Kelly Sutherland, Scott Cherrey and Bryan Pancich seemed to aid in the helter skelter nature of the night.
Less than two minutes into the game Ivan Barbashev laid a bone crunching hit on Samuel Girard, breaking Girard’s sternum in the process. At the game, at real speed, I was astounded that neither McCauley nor Sutherland had their arm up from what I presumed would be a potential boarding major. Once they showed the replay, the hit didn’t look nearly as egregious as it did to me live but I still don’t love these type of hits in the game. More importantly, our wishes for a speedy recovery go out to Girard. Here is the hit:
Colton Parayko opened the scoring less than two minutes later, booming a slapshot that sliced Devon Toews stick in two and beat Darcy Kuemper.
Tempers, scrums and questionable plays continued to escalate from both sides without either referee calling any penalties until Josh Manson’s roughing on Scott Perunovich. As an example of stuff that was let go, neither McCauley nor Sutherland felt the need to intervene and call anything on either team in this sequence:
Shenanigans but no penalties
The big turning point in the game and potentially the series occurred 6:45 into the game when Nazem Kadri went hard to the net for a loose puck, hitting Calle Rosen from behind, driving himself and Rosen onto Binnington. We’ve seen a lot on social media claiming that Rosen pushed Kadri onto Binnington which the replays pretty clearly show did not happen. Take a look at two angles here:
Overhead look, Rosen stops/Kadri hits him from behind
Kadri and Rosen landing on Binnington
Another thing that I noticed in the replay is that you don’t see any snow spray from Kadri, suggesting he wasn’t trying to stop as some have claimed. Kadri’s angle also has already straightened to the puck, taking an angle directly into Rosen and Binnington. Someone did a vector type video on twitter but they didn’t adjust for Kadri having already changed his angle to the puck.
I don’t know that he was purposefully trying to hurt Binnington, rather he was just focused on getting to the puck, knew that contact was very possible and didn’t care, making a reckless, dangerous play that likely will leave Binnington sidelined until the very latest games of the conference finals, if they make it that far. Kadri’s disciplinary history, especially given last year’s events, will make it impossible for a lot of fans to give him any benefit of the doubt.
Adding to Blues fans ire is that Binnington was already run into by Nichushkin earlier in this series. Cynical Blues fans will begin to wonder if this is a strategy, trying to rattle or hurt the emotional, sometimes immature Binnington.
Nichuskin skates into Binnington
I would wager that Binnington has patellar subluxation and patellar/kneecap instability. The kneecap dislocates and then pops back in place, becoming unstable. They didn’t show it on the television feed but his knee buckled just standing there when talking to trainer Ray Barille. As a goalie, I’ve experienced this personally on at least four occasions and it takes weeks to get the stability back. Of course, Binnington is a professional athlete and has somewhat limitless healthcare resources so his recovery may likely be quicker than mine have been.
Ville Husso came in and unfortunately, continued his poor play of late. Since April 16th, Husso’s save percentage in six of his last eight games has been 87.5% or less. His movements in the crease have not been as explosive, nor as precise. Another goalie who I was discussing it with referred to his movements as being a lot sloppier and assumed he was just getting worn down from a long season. Husso only played 17 games last year, 42 the year before that and 27 two years before. Perhaps the grind has worn him down, especially given the compacted schedule. Whatever it is, the Blues need him to find his game from the first two thirds of the season.
The Avalanche tied the game up less than five minutes later after successfully killing of a penalty to Manson. Blues fans will forever wonder if that play should have been blown dead for offsides.
Was it offsides?
Regardless of whether or not it was offsides, the Blues had enough people back to defend but they just did a terrible job defending. Couple that with Husso backing too deep into his crease and you have a goal by Logan O’Conor.
Terrible D and Husso too deep
This trend continued with Husso backing in on the game winning goal by Lehkonen. Rosen takes away the pass giving Husso the stoppable shot but he can’t make the save.
Husso is oving back on the GWG
The Blues would cut the lead to one on a Ryan O’Reilly goal before the Avalanche would add two empty net goals.
Let’s get back to McCauley and Sutherland for a few minutes. Does anyone understand what the standard for a penalty was Saturday night? They were brutal for both teams. Here are a few examples:
This wasn’t a penalty on Faulk for interference before the Blues second goal:
How is this not a penalty on Faulk?
Kadri grabbing and taking Kyrou’s stick wasn’t a penalty, nor was Kadri slashing Scott Perunovich’s stick out of his hands which lead to an Avalanche offensive zone possession and chance.
Kadri slashes Perunovich's stick out of his hands
Lehkonen got away with this trip as Brandon Saad tried to the tie the game in the waning seconds of the second period.
Lehkonen trips Saad on a scoring chance
The decided to call Pavel Buchnevich on this play, nullifying a goal. As Buchnevich is stopping to establish net front presence, he collides with Manson.
I’m not sure how you call that on Buchnevich with all the other things that were not called. It has to be maddening for both teams to have no idea what the officials might or might not call. As we say this time of year, you have to win regardless of officiating.
In regards to my five keys, the Blues didn’t get strong goaltending after Binnington left and that cost them dearly. They still need to get more contributions from Tarasenko and Buchnevich. I think Monday night will be very telling. Is this hand-pass version 2.0? I’m not convinced it will be.
It’s a great day for hockey.