Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri has been barred for the rest of the team’s opening-round playoff series against Boston after his cross-checking major to the head of Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk on Saturday night.
“He’s obviously gritty, a guy who does it right, a big part of the team,” Maple Leafs’ star Auston Matthews said of Kadri in an interview with The Canadian Press. “We need other people to step up. We’ve lost him before. We feel like depth on this team is something we have and we can take advantage of.”
Kadri, who had scored the lone Toronto goal a few shifts earlier, was suspended three games a year ago when he took a run at defenceless Bruins forward Tommy Wingels in Game 1 of their best-of-seven East quarter-final.
Toronto’s Nazem Kadri suspended three games for boarding Boston’s Tommy Wingels. <a href=”https://t.co/YKyNt1Kcu0″>https://t.co/YKyNt1Kcu0</a>
“I thought it was clean,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy after the game. “Looking back on it, shoulder-to-shoulder. Obviously, Kadri stayed down, I mean that’s his prerogative when you get hit.”
Nazem Kadri’s NHL suspensions
- Nov. 15, 2013: Sat 3 games for hit to the head of Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom.
- March 18, 2015: Sat 4 games for illegal check to the head of Edmonton’s Matt Fraser.
- April 4, 2016: Sat 4 games for cross-checking Detroit’s Luke Glendening in the head.
- April 13, 2018: Sat 3 games for boarding Boston’s Tommy Wingels.
A native of London, Ont., the intense and physical Kadri was the Leafs’ best player on Saturday along with goalie Frederik Andersen.
Nylander centring 3rd line Monday
“It was a physical game,” said Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. “The referees, the way they reffed the game, let a lot of stuff go, obviously.”
Kadri, whose agitating ways and ability to deliver offensively will be missed, is fresh off a 44-point regular season in 73 games and has a goal and two points in this series to give him 10 points in 19 NHL post-season starts.
William Nylander will shift from the wing and to take Kadri’s place centring the third line with Patrick Marleau and Connor Brown.
Nylander, who had just seven goals in 54 games following a contract dispute that stretched into December, scored in Toronto’s 4-1 victory in Game 1.
Ennis excited for ‘fun challenge’
Kadri’s absence also means Tyler Ennis will draw in on Toronto’s fourth line with Frederik Gauthier and Trevor Moore for his first playoff action for the Leafs.
“As a line, we’ve always tried to use our speed and get to pucks first and just create a lot of energy and outwork the other lines,” said Ennis, who had 12 goals in 51 games in the regular season. “It’s going to be the same game plan, the level’s just going to be ramped up because it’s playoffs.
“It’s going to be a fun challenge.”
Cassidy confirmed both DeBrusk and defenceman Torey Krug, who took a huge hit from Toronto blue-liner Jake Muzzin in Saturday’s second period and didn’t return, will play Monday.
Game 4 will also be played in Toronto on Wednesday before the series switches back to Boston’s TD Garden for Game 5 on Friday.