Robert Thomas was an innocent bystander midway through the third period Thursday night, just passing through. Or so he thought.
The next thing you know Thomas was in the penalty box for goaltender interference, a key call that led to the game-tying goal by Vancouver in what became a 4-3 shootout loss by the Blues.
“I was definitely not trying to hit the goalie, that’s for sure,” Thomas said. “I think I was like a foot or two outside the crease. I thought I got shoved. But both the refs had their arms up, so I think they thought differently.”
Thomas, a center, said he was going to the net and planned on stopping.
“(Colton) Parayko’s shot was just a little bit over the net,” he said, laughing.
Actually it was a lot over the net.
“So I decided to duck so it didn’t hit me in the head,” Thomas said, laughing some more. “I was going to go to the other corner and pick it up.”
But Vancouver defenseman Tyler Myers, all 6 feet 8, 229 pounds of him, backed into the 6-0, 188-pound Thomas. Thomas lost his balance, stumbled into Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko, and the penalty was called.
Myers then went after him afterward — you know, defending his goalie — but only half-heartedly, according to Thomas.
“I think he kind of knew he pushed me because he didn’t really go after me too hard,” Thomas said. “He threw a little courtesy slash.”
Ah, the old courtesy slash.
Thomas went to the penalty box and was looking up at the Enterprise Center videoboard for a replay of the “penalty” that never came. Next thing he knew, teammate David Perron was sitting next to him in the box.
“I thought he was just coming to tell me something,” Thomas said. “Next thing you know he hopped in the box with me.”
Perron was serving a bench minor called against coach Craig Berube for arguing with the officials, giving Vancouver a five-on-three advantage for a full two minutes.
Carl Gunnarsson didn’t practice Friday because of what Berube called a lower-body injury that occurred against Vancouver. Parayko took Gunnarsson’s spot on the defensive pairing with Alex Pietrangelo, so that’s probably how the Blues will line up again Saturday afternoon against Montreal.
“I’m not exactly sure what the plan is, but if so, I’m in,” Parayko said. “He’s a good player, been around for a while, he knows how to play well, he’s an elite player. So if so, it’s an exciting opportunity. Just kind of do to the best of my abilities, learn from it.”
Except for the final two games of the 2018-19 regular season, when Parayko was out of the lineup for “maintenance” reasons, Parayko has been paired with Jay Bouwmeester as the team’s shutout duo in every game since Jan. 3.
Like Pietrangelo, Parayko is a righthander and it was Parayko playing on his off side (left side) in practice.
“He’s such a good skater,” Berube said of Parayko. “He does wheel that way a lot in games, so we’ve got to find somebody that can fit over there at times in situations like this.”
TEAM CANADA BOUND
Three Blues prospects have been selected to represent Canada in next month’s CIBC Canada Russia Series, a six-game competition against the Russian National Junior Team.
Goalie Joel Hofer, a fourth-round pick in 2018 now with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, has been chosen for Team WHL. It plays the Russians Nov. 13-14.
Defenseman Tyler Tucker, a seventh-round pick in 2018 now with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, was selected to Team OHL. It faces the Russians Nov. 7 and Nov. 11.
Forward Mathias Laferriere, a sixth-round pick in 2018 now with the Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is on Team QMJHL. It plays Russia Nov. 4-5.