Unlike Oilers goalie Mike Smith, the kids from Crescent View Academy saw Nazem Kadri coming.
“Those that endure the most,” Crescent View senior-to-be Jenayin Wazwaz said with a knowing smile before Avalanche-Edmonton Game 2 at Ball Arena,” are rewarded the most.”
Wazwaz is biased, mind you. With good reason. Kadri, the Avs center who notched three assists during a 4-0 rout of the Oilers, is a relative.
“A few of my friends were coming up (recently), giving condolences, like, ‘We’re sorry this is happening. That shouldn’t be happening to anyone, let alone someone you’re related to,’” recalled Wazwaz, one of 10 students from Crescent View, a private Islamic school in Aurora, on hand to watch the Avs snatch a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup’s Western Conference finals.
“I feel like the one word I can use to describe (things) is, ‘Satisfaction.’ Nobody deserves to go through that. But I feel like our response kind of gave him hope and lifted his spirit.
“And that should just be the response (during) normal games — you should still give that support and that care and that love to the players. Just because you saw the outcome. You get what you give. That’s a good way to put it: You get what you give.”
Avalanche 4, Oilers 0.
You get what you give, Evander Kane.
“We’re not going to back down from anything,” Kadri said after the game. “We’ve proven that.”
It was apparent from the first shift, all the way from Section 326 at The Can, where Wazwaz and her classmates watched No. 91 continue his remarkable postseason run.
“As an Avalanche fan and a Muslim Avalanche fan, it’s really deplorable what St. Louis fans were doing to him and how they were treating him,” offered Yousef Zuraigat, a sophomore-to-be at Crescent View.
“But the fact that he responded in the way that he did really puts a seal on it. It feels really sweet to have known that he had … a hat trick (against the Blues) after all those threats.”
And the longer this story goes, the sweeter it gets.
“The last month has been emotional for some of (the students),” said Anwar Zuraigat, director of business and development at Crescent View and one of the kids’ chaperones to the game.
“They liked the way (Kadri) handled himself. They liked the class. We had to sit and talk about (Kadri’s responses). ‘Always face hatred with love.’”
Pavel Francouz, Darcy Kuemper’s understudy as goalie, was brilliant Thursday. The people’s champion — FRAN-KIE! FRAN-KIE! FRAN-KIE! — posted a shutout on 24 shots, stoning a roster of swift Edmonton skaters at every turn.
But if the ballots were counted Friday morning, it’s Kadri who would likely be voted as the Avs’ most valuable player, to date, of 2022’s sun-kissed Cup run.
Consider this: Since an accidental barrel-roll into Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made him the most detested sports figure in St. Louis not named Kroenke, since he became the target of water bottles and Islamophobic threats, the veteran center’s racked up four goals and four assists in five games.
The Avs are scoring for fun right now. And is anybody having more fun, on this stage, at this moment, than No. 91?
“Yeah, just (had) some fortunate bounces for us,” Kadri reflected Wednesday. “Just kind of (tried) to take advantage of some scoring opportunities.”
Those opportunities started four minutes into the second period when Kadri’s shot got deflected by Artturi Lehkonen past Smith for a 1-0 Avs lead.
Fifteen seconds later, with the din from the goal horn still ringing in Section 326, No. 91 fed defenseman Josh Manson at the point, setting up a slapper that made it 2-0.
Another 100 seconds passed before Kadri got loose again, leading a 2-on-1 break and finding Mikko Rantanen to his left for a silky wrister and 3-0 cushion.
Two minutes off the clock.
Three helpers in the bag.
“It’s a lot of fun, honestly,” Yousef Zuraigat said. “It kind of makes me feel good.”
You get what you give.
“That just shows what support does to someone,” Wazwaz said.
“Because he immediately got support from his family, from his friends, from his fans, from the (Denver) community. That just shows how much supporting people does for them. It was a big reflection on what (this) community gave to him.”
As a wise person once said, those who endure the most are rewarded the most. Just ask any Avs fan. Ten wins down. Six to go.