DROP THE MIKE

The Avalanche handled their first gut check of the postseason

May 23, 2022, 6:27 AM | Updated: 6:29 am
Jared Bednar...
(Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

Observations from the Avs’ gutsy Game 3 win:

• As easy as the Avs made it look for most of their first five playoff games, you knew it wouldn’t be a complete cakewalk. At some point, they would face adversity and that presented itself in Game 3. With not-so-quiet murmurings of past playoff failures swirling around them, Colorado went out and played a disciplined, determined, tenacious game that resulted in a satisfying 5-2 win.

• This is the kind of win that hopefully convinces some of the skeptics that this Avalanche is team is different. They are tougher – both physically and mentally – than they’ve been in the past. They should not be dogged by what last year’s group did in falling to Las Vegas.

• The Nazem Kadri collision with Jordan Binnington? I had absolutely no issue with it. That was a hockey play. The underrated part of the play that wasn’t discussed enough was Binnington brought this upon himself by giving up a juicy rebound. Kadri had to drive the net. Even while doing so, it was clear to me he was trying to move to his right to ward off the Blues player Calie Rosen. Rosen shoved back which helped drive Kadri into Binnington.

• It was the right play. It was a good play by Kadri. Besides, this is playoff hockey. If you have a chance to get a shot in on the goalie, you do it. Maybe you get inside his head a bit. Maybe you get him upset so he loses focus. Or, and while it may not be intentional, if a collision leads to a goalie who’s playing well against you getting hurt so he can’t play again in the series, that benefits the Avs in the long run.

• The bonus for the Avs is this was Kadri. The Blues already can’t stand him after what he did last year. So for it to be Kadri of all people who takes out Binnington (intentional or not) and then follows up by scoring a goal, that is something that has to drive the Blues bonkers. Again, you take the mental advantages whenever you can.

• More proof of that? Binnington throwing the water bottle at Kadri. Classless behavior by Binnington to be sure. But would Binnington have done that if Gabe Landeskog was the one who ran into him and ended his series? I doubt it. This is the beauty of Kadri when he walks that line and stays on the right side of it. He gets under the skin of his opponents and that only helps the Avs’ cause.

• I feel bad for Sam Girard. Whew, that was a brutal hit. It was clean. I slowed it down and looked at it. I didn’t see clear signs of charging or boarding. It was a big check delivered to a small guy who when crouched over had his head and upper body in a dangerous position and he got smoked. It was a clean hit. A hockey hit that happens with more regularity during the playoffs. Unfortunate, but not dirty.

• Now Girard is out for the season. That’s a tough break for a guy who often times comes into the crosshairs of Avs fans. He was playing well in these playoffs and his absence will be hard to fill. Jared Bednar now has to replace his point guard on his second power play unit and a defenseman who plays 18 minutes a night.

• Speaking of Bednar. Nice adjustment getting Logan O’Connor into the lineup. LOC needs to be a regular. Those young legs made a difference when he didn’t stop hustling and was in position to scoop up the loose puck after Josh Manson fielded a pop fly pass. O’Connor made a nice move going backhand to forehand to score. Little irony, his DU college coach, Jim Montgomery watched it from the Blues’ bench where Monty is now an assistant.

• One more Bednar note: I guess the Ken Doll can coach a little, eh?

***

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