[UPDATE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Kadri’s eight-game suspension following an appeal.]
The Avalanche have been a powerhouse team this season, and that’s even with injuries keeping them from being at full-strength. With that in mind, we probably should’ve expected the Avalanche to be great with Nazem Kadri suspended eight games, but this is the playoffs, and the Blues still have plenty of talent.
Well, so far, so good for the Avs without Kadri.
The Avalanche ended up winning Game 3 by a score of 5-1, pushing the Blues to the brink of elimination.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 First Round schedule, TV info]
Is that score unfair to the effort St. Louis put forth? Absolutely. You could argue maybe they should have won. But in a way, that’s a reminder of Colorado’s power. They can overwhelm you; they can also just out-skill/out-finish you.
In other words: yes, they’re scary. And now they are up 3-0.
Avalanche win Game 3 without Kadri; Blues on brink of elimination
Now, one player’s suspension could be another player’s opportunity to shine. With Kadri suspended, maybe someone like Alex Newhook will get a longer look?
Through six regular season games, Newhook, 20, generated three assists. He averaged a modest-but-respectable 13:41 TOI per game. The Avs were reluctant to play Newhook much early on, as he enjoyed about seven minutes of ice time per night — but maybe Newhook can show he’s already ready?
He scored his first career NHL goal — playoff or otherwise — to help the Avalanche beat the Blues in Game 3. As the 16th pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, Newhook is the latest Colorado player who might be able to make a quick playoff impact.
[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Producing certainly would help, and might force the Avs to think about giving him more time.
Beyond Newhook, Ryan Graves enjoyed a strong game, including scoring the first goal of the contest about two minutes into the second period. Of course, Philipp Grubauer played a significant role in the Avalanche absorbing the Blues’ pushes, especially earlier in Game 3.
Considering all the injuries the Avalanche dealt with during the regular season, and the lineup deficit without Kadri, it seems ideal to take care of this series earlier rather than later. (Although, if they sweep the Blues, that would mean more Second Round games without Kadri. So there’s that.)
AVALANCHE – BLUES FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE
Game 1: Avalanche 4, Blues 1
Game 2: Avalanche 6, Blues 3
Game 3: Avalanche 5, Blues 1
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 email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.