ST. LOUIS – Look, I’m never going to talk trash against Ryan O’Reilly. I don’t want to make this about me, BUT…
I’ve kind of hinted around about this before, but now will say more in-depth: When I had my entire life overturned nearly seven years ago from a drug-induced tweet and thought I’d lost everything and didn’t know if I’d be able to move on, I got a call from Ryan O’Reilly’s father, Brian. He said that Ryan had noticed what happened to me, and that maybe I’d need some help.
Brian O’Reilly is a guy I’d talked to before, about hockey and about life, as he was/is something of a life coach and I always enjoyed talking with him about things. On the day after I thought I’d lost everything and was in a crazy state of mind, Brian O’Reilly was in my living room, talking to me for about two hours. It really helped me. A LOT. I will never, ever, ever, ever be grateful enough for that time from him.
So, go elsewhere if you’re looking for anything bad to be said about the O’Reilly family. It’ll never happen here.
But look: I had to ask the question after the game. I asked Avs captain Gabe Landeskog, after the Avs swept the Blues today, whether O’Reilly’s “We’re going to have some fun, and we’re going to beat them” pre-series quote motivated the Avs at all?
“Yeah, it did,” Landeskog said.
Credit to the Avs captain for being honest. And, credit to the Blues captain, too, for trying to motivate his team. I really think that’s all O’Reilly was trying to do. I suspect O’Reilly knew his team needed a bit of a jolt, and he tried to do it with a Joe Namath-style guarantee of victory, to build confidence within his own room and maybe shake up the Avs’ confidence a bit. After all, Ryan O’Reilly had a right to talk like his. He is a Stanley Cup champion, a winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.
But, no, this quote didn’t work. It’ll be relegated to the “Dewey Defeats Truman” premature declarations of victory file.
THOUGHTS ON THE SERIES AND WHAT’S AHEAD
- A lot to unpack here. First off, I thought Philipp Grubauer was great in the series, yet probably he won’t get much ink for his performance. He was tremendous, though. He really made some big saves at key times in games, where, if he hadn’t, this series could have been much different.
- I gotta be honest: I still think Vegas might be the better, tougher team in Round 2. Fleury, Stone, maybe Pacioretty back? I worry.
- That said, this Avs team has come through all year when I had some doubts. So, I’m not saying anything too negative. But, look, DON’T GET AHEAD OF YOURSELVES here, Avs fan. We all thought the road looked smooth last year, to the Cup Finals, after the first round. Then, the second round happened.
- I’ve always said, though: if you want to win a Stanley Cup, you’re going to have to go through the Belly of the Beast at some point. That belly belongs to Vegas right now, I think. Might as well get this over with, sooner rather than later.
- Yeah, I know Vegas has to win one more game against Minnesota, that the series isn’t over. But it will be after tomorrow night.
- I thought the turning point in the game today was Brandon Saad’s PP goal right at the end of the Avs’ second-period power play. The Blues were about to kill the power play off, and would have gotten a big cheer from the crowd on hand, with their team up 1-0. Instead, Saad found the top left corner with his wrister from the slot. I thought the Blues looked deflated after that, and the results the rest of the way lend credence to that belief.
- Jared Bednar said the sweep should be good for his team, to get a bit more rest over the next few days, then open the next series at home. “We can get more practice time in, and prepare more,” Bednar said.
- I want to thank the people of St. Louis for being cool to be around in this series. I like this city, even though it has some problems.
- There are some good odds to check out here for hockey playoffs at sbobet.
- Bednar said Alex Newhook had some “back stiffness” after sliding into the boards in the first period. He never returned. I’m hearing that this shouldn’t be a long-term thing, but clearly Newhook is going to need some further evaluation. Back injuries are no joke – and I know firsthand.
- Devon Toews was sublime in the series. What a pickup by Joe Sakic.
- I’d like to see Cale Makar get better for the next round. The power play – the Saad goal aside, which was set up by Makar – needs to be better moving forward. I’d like to see his slap shot a little more.
- Devan Dubnyk is now the official backup to Grubauer. He was on the bench today, supplanting Jonas Johansson in that role.
- Nazem Kadri is appealing his eight-game suspension by the NHL. The NHLPA formally filed the appeal. I would say “good luck with that.” Gary Bettman calls the shots on this, and I don’t see him undercutting George Parros on this decision.
- I thought Ryan Graves was a top-5 player for the Avs in this series. That goal he scored in Game 3 was huge. And, he was tough physically. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Avs would be foolish to expose him in the Expansion Draft to Seattle.