Why did Nazem Kadri snap in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?


Why did Nazem Kadri snap and hit Justin Faulk in the head during the third period of the Colorado Avalanche-St. Louis Blues game on May 19? Who knows?

As someone interested in the mental aspect of the game though, I wish I could jump into his head, even just for a little while, to gain some understanding of what happened. As other teams’ fans will know, this is not the first time this has happened with Kadri, and yet since he moved to the Avalanche 18 months ago, he has not done anything like this. Is it the added tension of the playoffs that causes him to make these types of play?

Kadri had a frustrating regular season this year. He had not produced nearly as much as he did last year. There have been a number of times when Head Coach Jared Bednar commented on not being happy with Kadri’s play. And yet, the stats do not show that he had a horrible regular season.


What is the most telling with these stats is that his penalty minutes dropped significantly to the lowest it has been since the 2014–15 season when he was playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is 1/3 of what it was in 2019–20 when Kadri first joined the Avalanche. Given the shortened season and the breaks that were mandatory for COVID-19, Kadri was the only player to play all 56 games, so his stats are reasonable considering.

When you listen to Kadri speak about his play though, it is easy to consider that he may be someone that puts a lot of pressure on himself. For that sort of person, when they are not performing the way they think they should be, an inner tension builds. Often when that happens, the frustration boils over and manifests as outward anger. The crazy thing is that it is much more about what is going on internally for that player than anything else.

Watching the play at Ball Arena on Wednesday night, it was clear that Kadri did hit Faulk in the head. I do not condone any form of that, because while hockey is a tough sport, no one deserves to receive a head injury, especially at the hands of someone else.

During both Game 1 and Game 2 between the Blues and the Avalanche though, there were a lot of plays that in the regular season would have been called as penalties. This has not been the case during either game. Apparently, that is the nature of playoff hockey. But, even watching the game as a spectator, you have no idea what is being said or done in truth, on the ice, player to player.

The Blues play with a disruptive mindset. They like to check and push and try and create tension in the game. It has not been the way the Avalanche play games, so meeting that at a different playoff level may be hard to take.

In the end, Kadri was given an eight-game suspension by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. The Avalanche have lost a valuable player in their second-line center. After Game 1, fans and others commentated that he had not done much, yet the stats showed otherwise.

Having Kadri out of the Avalanche lineup will make a difference to the team. Will the team adjust?

Bednar said that Carl Soderberg would play in the lineup in place of Kadri, but would not comment on the line combinations for Game 3.

The options

  • Alex Newhook to center the second line with Burakovsky and Donskoi. Is he up to it?
  • Tyson Jost to move up, but that would disrupt the productive Brandon Saad, Jost, and Valeri Nichuchskin third line.

In Game 2, the hit on Faulk appeared to give the Blues momentum, as they put on 11 shots during the five-minute power play. Let’s hope the Avalanche lineup handles whatever the Blues throw at them in the upcoming games in this round.

Leave a Reply