The Toronto Maple Leafs will be looking to bounce back tomorrow night against the Boston Bruins, who blew them out of the water in game one of their NHL playoff tilt – and will have to do so without their second line center Nazem Kadri.
Kadri has been suspended three games by the league for a dirty hit to the head of Bruins forward Tommy Wingels. The incident took place at the midway marker of the third period with the Bruins in full control of the contest. To make matters worse, Wingels was already down on his knees when Kadri flew in, angled himself towards the downed player, and purposely hit his head into the boards.
Kadri denied that he intended to hit a player while he was down, stating that “I was already committed to the hit. If he’s still standing up, there’s nothing wrong with that.” Video replay had a different story to tell, however.
This is the fourth suspension for Kadri – and the longest handed out in the post-season since Matt Cooke was given seven games in 2014.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock chose to place Patrick Marleau back at center over moving Thomas Plekanec, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens at the trade deadline, up the line-up. Plekanec was acquired precisely for moments like this, to give the Maple Leafs depth at center for a playoff push – yet he wasn’t the man chosen to return to the position he held for much of the season in Montreal.
Kadri will be illegible to return should the series go to a fifth game.