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BenFred: 'The Kadri Game' will go down in Blues infamy if tossed trash is strongest response

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St. Louis Blues lose 5-2 to Colorado Avalanche

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) leaves with an injury during the first period of Game 3 of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs at Enterprise Center on Saturday, May 21, 2022. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Call this one, ‘The Kadri Game.’

Hashtag it #Bottlegate.

You had to know the most polarizing man with a vested interest in the Avalanche not named Stan Kroenke was going to stir the pot eventually.

Kadri’s Game 3 performance, complete with another tired Mr. Misunderstood song and dance after Colorado’s 5-2 win, could have just swung this second-round series in favor of the Avalanche.

Kadri’s first-period collision with Blues defenseman Calle Rosen turned into a two-man collision into Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, who left the game with a lower-body injury and was not heard from again – at least not until he and Kadri crossed paths in the Enterprise Center hallway that connects locker rooms after the game, and Binnington, according to multiple witnesses cited by media covering the Avalanche, sent an empty water bottle in Kadri's direction.

But that wasn’t the only thing Kadri did Saturday.

Blues fans won’t want to admit this, but Kadri played great after Ville Husso was tasked with the tough assignment of hustling into the game from the bench to fill in for the Blues' most important player in this postseason.

Kadri scored a goal after the collision. Kadri notched an assist after the collision. Kadri took Jordan Kyrou’s stick away from him after the collision. Did you see that one? It was the kind of thing a big brother does to a little brother in a street hockey game. Kadri was on the ice a lot after the collision, including late, after things got lopsided, and he was seemingly unafraid of any sort of potential retribution from the Blues.

Based of Kadri's post-game comments, he didn’t see any need to look over his shoulder. What happened to Binnington was just an unfortunate circumstance, the result of him going hard for a loose puck, per his story. He got pushed from behind, he said. That claim, of course, is what people on both side of the argument – Clean play! Dirty play! – should be able to agree about. Kadri wasn’t pushed. This is not debatable. See the photos. Watch the videos. Kadri crashed into Rosen. Kadri kept the pile moving into Binnington. The rest can be debated. Not that part.

The rules on goalie interference are pretty muddy when a goalie’s teammate is involved in the carnage. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly and defenseman Colton Parayko seemed to shrug off the idea of foul play after the loss. The hit that melted Twitter seemed like a non-issue to the Blues — until Blues coach Craig Berube stepped to the microphone, which must have happened around the same time Binnington opted for a creative method of recycling.

“Look at Kadri’s reputation,” Berube said. “That’s all I have to say.”

That, Chief, is saying a whole heck of a lot.

Kadri, of course, is a guy who often finds himself trying to explain that a situation in which he comes across looking like a dirty player was one big misunderstanding, or something he is oh so sorry about. The last example with the Blues was when he nearly beheaded Justin Faulk in Colorado’s sweep of the Blues in last season’s first-round meeting. Kadri waxed poetic in the Players’ Tribune earlier this month about that one, a year after he served an eight-game suspension for an illegal check to the head that helped the Avalanche beat the Blues last season, but cost them in their later loss to Las Vegas. The Blues fought Kadri twice this regular season as a result, once with Brayden Schenn and once with Faulk. Binnington, it should be noted, took a swing at Kadri's head with his blocker in October. Binnington is not Mr. Clean. Neither is Kadri, who keeps pretending.

“I’m never trying to hurt anyone out there,” Kadri wrote in that Players’ Tribune piece about the hit on Faulk. “I know people might not want to hear any of this, or they’ve already made their minds up about me. I get that.”

Asked by Colorado-based media if he expected more shenanigans with the Blues entering this series, Kadri called for water under the bridge.

“It’s kind of over and done with,” he told The Denver Post entering this series. “I answered the bell, multiple times. And this time of year, I think both teams understand that winning comes first and any sort of redemption (is uncommon). It’s all about getting wins and the score at the end of the game."

You can make your own call about Saturday's collision with Binnington. Avalanche fans are claiming outrage from Blues fans is either forced or unfairly applied because of Kadri's past. Blues fans want Kadri arrested for felonious assault. Here's my take. Few players seem to have a hard time stopping themselves – especially when there is a player between the two – from winding up on top of the goalie. Colorado seems to be having problems with this, though. I think Kadri was simply following the same approach Valeri Nichushkin was following when he was called for goalie interference on Binnington in Game 2. It's pretty rare to have a goalie interference call in one game and a near one in the next. Guys don't wind up crashing into goalies all that often. But Colorado keeps doing it against the Blues. Weird, right? (That's sarcasm font, folks.)

Binnington was so locked in during his postseason resurgence, I think the Avalanche were trying to rattle him. Buzz the tower. If so, it worked better than they could have hoped Saturday. Now the biggest question mark in this series is Binnington’s health. Maybe it was good news that he was up, walking and feeling feisty enough to lash out at Kadri after the loss. Or, maybe it meant he had received bad news about his status moving forward. Berube made it sound like Binnington hoped to stay in the game or return to it. That he didn’t suggested the team’s medical team intervened. Gulp.

No offense to Husso, but I don't like the Blues’ chances in this series if they have to move forward without Binnington. I say that because we got a taste of the Blues without Binnington in this series for two-plus periods Saturday night. It was not very inspiring.

There are two good ways to go when something like this happens.

One is emotional. Make Kadri pay for what he did, whether he was penalized for it or not, whether he meant to do it or not. An eye for an eye. A star for a star. Even if it means a stiff penalty or a suspension.

The other way?

Forget that side stuff and go win the dang game. The Blues had chances after Husso was rushed into action, but they were not taken advantage of because of large swaths of minutes where the Blues looked about as threatening as, well, an empty water bottle. Husso let in one soft goal that Binnington probably would have stopped. He’s not the reason the Blues’ forwards scored just once after Binnington hobbled into the dressing room, though.

Instead of losing their minds to avenge Binnington, the Blues decided to play it cool. Instead they went cold. The brightest sparks came after the loss, when Berube referenced Kadri's past and Binnington popped his cap. Where was the fire on the ice? Kadri left the game he defined wearing a grin.

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