A look of confusion came over Nazem Kadri's face as he spoke to the TNT studio panel after the Avalanche's Game 3 win over the Blues on Saturday night. The Avs center was explaining his first-period collision with Jordan Binnington, which had caused the Blues starter to exit the game early. "Just the loose puck. I just tried to get my stick in there and, uh, you know," Kadri began, before staring off-camera and mysteriously trailing off. A few seconds later, he started again: "And just tried to poke the puck free. I think their weakside defenseman came over and kind of bumped me and that's what caused the collision."
Kadri's explanation tracked with the replay of the collision, which showed Blues defenseman Calle Rosen and Kadri tripping over each other as they skated toward the net and both fell into Binnington. The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford reported that Binnington could be out multiple weeks with a knee sprain; Blues head coach Craig Berube said Sunday that Binnington will at the very least miss the remainder of the second-round series.
But Blues fans will be glad to know that Binnington seemed his usual ornery self after the injury. The mystery of Kadri's silence did not go unsolved. "Hope he's all right," Kadri said, referring to Binnington. "Not sure if he just threw a water bottle at me or not." A few media members hanging around the arena corroborated Kadri's accusation with photos of the weapon, which was still lying at the scene of the crime after the interview ended.
Neither side of this feud is inclined to believe the other. Berube pointed to Kadri's "reputation," his history of controversial postseason hits, including one that earned him an eight-game suspension last year when the Avs faced the Blues in the first round. Binnington's teammates Brayden Schenn and Robert Bortuzzo both made comments to the effect that a player in Kadri's position usually knows what he's doing. Avs head coach Jared Bednar said he felt the collision was unfortunate but legal, no different than the hit that saw Avs defenseman Sam Girard leave the game in the first period. The NHL's Department of Player Safety reportedly agrees with Bednar and Kadri, and won't review it.
But a collision will be investigated: the one between the water bottle and the floor near Kadri. Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff reported today that the NHL is looking into who threw it, while the Athletic reported that it was the goalie. The TNT panelists made some headway, asking Kadri to clarify that it was Binnington. Kadri told them that it was possible but that they would have to ask the goalie.
Reporters at the Avs' postgame media availability asked Kadri the same question and got the same answer. "I think it was Binnington," he said. "I was doing the interview so I wasn't quite sure, but yeah, I think it was him. I don't know. I don't know for sure." The TNT panelists also asked whether Kadri and Binnington were buddies—was this perhaps a wholesome and good-natured water bottle chucking between the fellas?—which Kadri answered with a cheery, "No. We're not."
If they were, theirs would be a peculiar friendship. Last October, in an Avs-Blues game featuring several scrums, Binnington swung his goalie stick near Kadri's head, and the two had to be separated by an official. "I definitely don't want kids out there swinging their sticks," Binnington said after that happened. He has yet to condemn his own behavior this time, so don't be surprised if the St. Louis area sees an uptick in hooligan child goalies throwing water bottles.