The Stanley Cup Finals continue. The Blues are now down 2-1 to the Bruins after Jake Binnington’s worst game as a pro. Torey Krug has put the Blues on notice and the Bruins’ powerplay continues to roll. We also have some exciting news in the AHL and ECHL.
1. Binnington Cracked
After over four months of otherworldly play throughout the regular season and playoffs, Blues goalie Jordan Binnington finally cracked. The Bruins knocked Binnington out of Saturday night’s game in the second period on their way to a 7-2 victory in St. Louis. Penalties have become a problem for St. Louis, especially against Boston’s potent powerplay. The B’s were perfect on the powerplay and scored four times with powerplay goals from Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Torey Krug, and Marcus Johansson.
The has been the first game Binnington has looked like a rookie since he made his debut back in January. He almost single-handedly revived the Blues’ season as they were in last place when he started playing regularly. It’s become obvious that if Binnington isn’t playing at his best, the Blues simply don’t have the firepower to match up with Boston. Binnington needs to start hot in Game Four or this series will end in Boston in Game Five.
2. Torey Krug’s Coming Out Party
It’s no secret that the Bruins have an exceptional powerplay. And if their powerplay is a sports car, then Bruins’ defenseman Torey Krug is their engine. Krug recorded a goal and three assists in Boston’s win, all four points coming on the powerplay. Krug has been one of Boston’s most important players in this series. Most most fans saw his monster, helmetless hit on Robert Thomas back in Game One.
I’m sure people are sick and tired of hearing about that hit, but I loved every bit of it. First, you can see Krug and David Perron get into it on the ice. Both players were jawing at each other and trying to get a good jab in. What I really loved was seeing Krug stay disciplined after getting his helmet knocked off. You can watch Krug skate at full speed to catch up to Perron, and as Perron heads to the bench, Krug changes direction to move back into the play. He timed his skate perfectly and hit Thomas right as he got his stick on the puck. His skates were on the ice and he didn’t make contact with Thomas’ head. The hit was clean. I love the fact that the hit came without a helmet because you can see Krug’s nice new haircut. If the Bruins win this series, I think a photo of this moment should be framed and hung in every sports bar in Boston.
3. Calder Cup Finals
Just in case you all forgot, we are also in the midst of the AHL’s Calder Cup Finals. I was lucky enough to see the Grand Rapids Griffins win the title on home ice back in 2017. It was one of the cooler sporting events I have had the chance to attend as the Griffins won the game late in the third period. The Griffins had a ton of current Red Wings on the team, too, including Evgeni Svechnikov (Andrei’s brother), Tyler Bertuzzi who won the playoff MVP award, and Martin Frk. I was able to see a game in almost every round of that postseason run. What was super cool is that the Griffins are the most-popular professional team in Grand Rapids and the fans went crazy after they won. Everyone was honking their horns and partying as we left the arena.
This year’s Calder Cup finals will showcase the Chicago Wolves, the affiliate of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the Charlotte Checkers, the affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes. The series is currently tied 1-1 after the Checkers won Game Two Sunday night. Both teams were fantastic in the regular season and both finished atop their division.
One of the best parts about watching the Calder Cup playoffs is seeing the future of the NHL. Wolves’ forward, Cody Glass, is probably the best prospect in the series. Glass was the sixth-overall pick of the 2017 draft and has the honor of being the Golden Knights’ first-ever draft pick. Glass spent most of this season playing in the Western Hockey League for the Portland Winterhawks. He made the jump to the AHL at the end of the season, playing in six games. He has made an immediate impact in the playoffs, with 14 points in 19 games. If you have some time on your hands, I would definitely recommend checking out the Calder Cup Finals because it is great hockey.
In odd hockey news, the Colorado Eagles, formerly of the ECHL, have not returned the league’s championship trophy, the Kelly Cup. For a quick recap of the situation, the Eagles won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup as league champions in 2017 and 2018. After last season, the franchise left the ECHL to become the Avalanche’s new AHL affiliate – but the team has yet to return the Kelly Cup to the ECHL. The ECHL is currently in the midst of the Kelly Cup finals between the Toledo Walleye and the Newfoundland Growlers. When one of them is eventually crowned victorious, the winner will raise a new Kelly Cup.
What’s amazing about this oddity is that the team and the league blame each other for why the Cup has not been returned. The Eagles claim that they have tried to return the Kelly Cup and the league has ignored them. The ECHL has refuted that claim and has said the team refuses to return it.
I love this story! I’m actually kind of upset that the team said that they tried to return it. I wish they would own the fact they refuse to give it back. That is such a power move by their owner.
Winning back-to-back championships, keeping the trophy and then moving up to a higher league is the most baller thing I have ever seen. I hope the Eagles win the Calder Cup next year and do the exact same thing.
5. Kuznetsov Apologizes
Last week, a video surfaced of Capitals’ forward, Evgeny Kuznetsov, sitting in a room sitting next to two lines of white powder. Kuznetsov said that the video was filmed last summer after the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.
— Breaking Lucky (@breakinglucky18) May 27, 2019
Most of the details of the video remain unclear. Obviously, many people jumped to conclusions and assumed Kuznetsov was doing cocaine. Kuznetsov has since admitted he was present but has never used illegal substances in his life. He has also apologized. The league has cleared him of any wrongdoing, so it looks like he’s in the clear.
Let’s point out a few obvious facts about this situation. NHL players are probably often present when others are using illegal drugs. They make a lot of money and have a schedule that allows them to party during the offseason. Many NHL players probably use illegal drugs without getting caught. Kuznetsov needs to be smarter and not let his friends take videos of him in a room with cocaine. That’s about as simple as this needs to be. That being said, I’m glad Kuznetsov won’t be reprimanded because I like watching him play and don’t want to see him get in trouble. ■
Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.