Avalanche beat Blues in Game 2 despite Kadri hit on Faulk

1 Comment

[UPDATE: Kadri has been suspended eight games by the NHL.]

Through the first period of Game 2, it looked like the Avalanche would cruise vs. the Blues. The Blues sanded away, especially after Nazem Kadri delivered his latest potentially suspension-worthy hit (this time on Justin Faulk). It indeed got interesting, but the Avalanche ultimately beat the Blues 6-3 in Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead.

Avalanche beat the Blues in a Game 2 that got interesting

Again, it was one-sided early on.

The Avalanche generated a 2-0 lead through the first period of Game 2, generating a dominant 16-9 shots on goal advantage over the Blues.

A bit more than three minutes into the second period, Joonas Donskoi made it 3-0. From there, the takeaways boil down to perspective.

Did the Avalanche lay off the accelerator? Personally, the answer seems to be “Yes.” But maybe the Blues also settled down, and learned a few things about how to play their game. They gave themselves a shot with a 3-1 goal late in the middle frame.

Then things got weird, and violent, and someone might get suspended (while someone might have been injured).

Another questionable Kadri playoff hit, this time on Justin Faulk

Ideally, Nazem Kadri would’ve left bad playoff hits behind after being traded from the Maple Leafs. It seemed like Kadri was upset about leaving Toronto, but consecutive playoff suspensions almost certainly pushed him out.

Apparently those habits die hard?

Whatever the case may be, Nazem Kadri received a match penalty for an ugly hit on Blues defenseman Justin Faulk. It’s automatically subject to review from the Department of Player Safety, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Kadri got suspended again.

Take a look at that hit Kadri delivered on Faulk. Is that worth a major, a suspension, or both?

As ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reports, Blues players believe that Kadri should be suspended.

“The guy can’t control himself,” Brayden Schenn said. “In the playoffs, he’s a repeat offender. Bad hits. Greasy hits. He had a guy in a vulnerable position and he picked nothing but the head.”

Ryan O'Reilly said “it’s gotta be a suspension.” Many agree, but we’ll see if the Department of Player Safety sees it the same way. And, if so, for how long.

A sprint of a finish

With the score at 3-1, the Blues received a five-minute power play opportunity, with a major opening the door for multiple goals. Colorado mostly performed well in the ensuing PK situation, but St. Louis did score once to make it 3-2.

Maybe that 3-2 goal woke up the Avs, or maybe Nathan MacKinnon & Co. sitting through that five-minute kill revved them up. Either way, the Avalanche and Blues made sure Game 2 would end with a wild finish.

About five minutes after Brayden Schenn scored on that major, Nathan MacKinnon collected his second goal of the night. The Blues weren’t rolling over, though, as Mike Hoffman shrank Colorado’s lead back down to 4-3 just 15 seconds later.

Any sniff of a larger comeback was snuffed out with two empty-netters. Brandon Saad connected first, then MacKinnon completed his hat trick with that ENG. (MacKinnon ended up with four points [3G, 1A]. Donskoi had a big night, too, with two goals and an assist.)

It will be fascinating to see if the mood of this series will shift in Game 3 of Blues – Avs. If nothing else, St. Louis may be at less of a disadvantage down the middle, as Kadri’s likely going to be suspended.

(Though … do we ever really know?)

Nazem Kadri’s suspension history

This seems like a pertinent time to note Nazem Kadri’s larger suspension history. After all, it will be surprising if that Kadri hit on Faulk doesn’t result in another playoff suspension.

  • November 2013: Nazem Kadri was suspended three games for interference. In that case, he collided with then-Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.
  • March 2015: Next, Kadri sat four games for an illegal hit to the head of Matt Fraser.
  • April 2016: The 2015-16 season ended early for Kadri after he cross-checked Luke Glendening. It was another four-game suspension.
  • April 2018: Now we get to the back-to-back Kadri suspensions vs. the Bruins in playoff games. Kadri missed Games 2, 3, and 4 in the Maple Leafs’ 2018 First Round series vs. the Bruins for a hit on Tommy Wingels.
  • April 2019: A year later, the NHL suspended Nazem Kadri for the remainder of the Bruins – Maple Leafs First Round series (3-5 games) for a dangerous hit on Jake DeBrusk.
  • May 2021? We’ll see if Kadri once again get suspended during the playoffs, this time for that hit on Faulk from Game 2 of Blues – Avalanche.

Whether Kadri plays in Avs – Blues Game 3 or not, his suspension history is disturbing. And yet another team may wonder if he’s worth the risk of these self-inflicted wounds.

Overall, it didn’t hurt the Avs too bad, at least yet.

AVALANCHE VS. BLUES (COL leads 2-0) – series livestream link

Game 1: Avalanche 4, Blues 1
Game 2: Avalanche 6, Blues 3
Friday, May 21: Avalanche at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET (USA Network)
Sunday, May 23: Avalanche at Blues, 5 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
*Tuesday, May 25: Blues at Avalanche TBD
*Thursday, May 27: Avalanche at Blues TBD
*Saturday, May 29: Blues at Avalanche TBD

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.