Listen, let’s start this by saying that very few hockey pundits expected the Blues to make it past the Avalanche this round. The Avs are a steamroller, and the Blues aren’t getting offense from players not named Ryan O’Reilly or David Perron. Torey Krug and Marco Scandella are still out, and now so is Jordan Binnington.
Going into this series, I, ever the optimist, expected it to end in six games in favor of Colorado. That was before Jordan Binnington got knocked out of game three in a play that’s been analyzed more times than the JFK assassination. Much like the Zapruder Film, people are seeing what they want to see in the play, and the constant arguing on social media is becoming frigging exhausting.
On top of the hockey controversy, there are assholes who are coming after Kadri and harassing his family and Kadri himself on-line. It’s fair game to criticize Kadri’s play and Kadri’s reputation - God knows he has the suspension list to back it up. What is NOT fair game is going after players off-ice, especially using racial slurs or Islamophobic slurs. People who are doing this are an embarrassment to the Blues and their fanbase. I know every team has a minority of jackasses whose tweets and comments become the face of everyone (I am a Cardinals fan and I am guilty of laughing at @BestFansStLouis, ok?), but it stings when it’s coming from your own people.
It also stings when the coach offers up a “no comment” when asked about what some individuals are slinging at Kadri. I get Berube wants to focus on his team and his team only, but at least say something along the lines of “those sorts of comments have no place in our game and the Blues condemn them.” It’s canned, sure, but it’s a response. A “no comment” is fuel to the fire.
"For those who hate, that was for them."— NHLonTNT (@NHL_On_TNT) May 24, 2022
Nazem Kadri spoke to the panel about his performance tonight in St. Louis and dealing with the threats he received after Game 3 pic.twitter.com/w88yIGm7Yf
And what a fire it wound up being. For the Blues, last night was a genuine dumpster fire. The first period was fine, though the Blues were outplayed. The wheels came off in the second period. Before they managed to actually respond with things that matter (goals) the Blues decided to bring a physical spark to the game that just came across as a temper tantrum, much of which was directed at Kadri. After the hit that knocked Jordan Binnington out of the game on Saturday night, the Blues stood around with their thumbs up their asses and then promptly lost any and all momentum, so it was interesting to see them try to respond to whatever the situation with Kadri was two nights later after going down 3-1. By the end of the game last night, Kadri had a hat trick and an assist to add to his goal and assist from Saturday night.
What in the hell are the Blues doing?
They don’t respond in any meaningful way when their goaltender gets taken out (and by that I don’t mean even necessarily anything physical - I mean by not collapsing the second Binnington skates off of the ice and continuing to play like trash in front of the goaltender that got you into the postseason to begin with). They let the Avalanche run over them in game three, Binnington throws a bottle at Kadri because he’s... what, a toddler?, Kadri gets in the heads of the whole fanbase and the team, the Blues allow Kadri and the Avalanche to steamroll them in game four.
This is unacceptable, and it’s starting to have less and less to do with Kadri and more and more to do with the fact that the one year the Blues knew how to manage themselves, they won the Cup. Now? Zero emotional regulation. Zero putting anything behind them, regardless of how much they say that they do. Absolutely zero emotional drive unless there’s an opportunity to pitch a fit.
That doesn’t “light a spark.” It makes you look stupid, especially when you continue to roll over after the roughhousing ends.
Wednesday night is going to be a fight, and it’s one that the Blues can only win if they get past this stuff, stop focusing on the opponent, and start focusing on playing the game. So far, I don’t see much from them - and really haven’t historically seen much either - to make me think that this is a hill that they can climb.