Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

Can Toronto rebound without Kadri?? Game 2 – Leafs vs. Bruins

April 14, 2018, 4:50 PM ET [1445 Comments]
Mike Augello
Toronto Maple Leafs Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
For the latest Leafs updates or on Twitter

The hammer came down on Nazem Kadri on Friday night, as the Leafs center was suspended three games for his hit on Boston winger Tommy Wingels.

NHL’s Department of Player Safety stated that Kadri had enough time to recognize that the Bruins forward had fallen to his knees and was “in a defenseless position before committing to the hit” and that he did not try to avoid or minimize it after seeing Wingels and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara sandwich Leafs winger Mitch Marner along the boards.

The loss of Kadri puts Toronto in a precarious position for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal at TD Garden on Saturday, but also for their two games at Air Canada Centre on Monday and Thursday, as the Leafs will have to find a way to step up their play without one of their three 30-goal scorers.

“We expected obviously a game out of it and we started with that yesterday. Adversity faced in the playoffs, if we're going to have a long run, is always there.” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said after Saturday’s morning skate. “There's not much you can do about it. Let's just get on with it. We went without a number of centres this year, let's play.”

In the series opener, the Leafs were put on their heels early by the forechecking of Boston, were unable to maneuver top center Auston Matthews and winger William Nylander away from the matchup against either the Patrice Bergeron line or Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and gave the lethal Boston power play six opportunities, in which they scored on three of them.

“We can't be in the (penalty) box.” Babcock said. “Our compete level (needs to be) right through our group, you've got to have everybody. Competitiveness on the puck, winning 50/50 battles, races, wall battles, net battles, that's got to be our priority and that's how we get ourselves playing better.”

In Game 2, Babcock has been forced to shake up his line combinations with Kadri being unavailable. Veteran Leo Komarov has been elevated to the top line with Matthews and Nylander, in theory to provide a bit of resistance if Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy chooses to match the Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand line in a head-to-head matchup.

Zach Hyman has been moved off of the Matthews line for the first time this season and will skate on the left side with Mitch Marner and Patrick Marleau moving to the middle.

Instead of inserting Matt Martin for some muscle in the lineup, the Leafs head coach will go with rookie Andreas Johnsson on the fourth line with veteran Tomas Plekanec and Kasperi Kapanen and the speedy winger will replace Kadri on the top power play unit.

“(Johnsson) was skilled (when used on the power play). He was tenacious, [the Matthews] power play [unit], I don't know if you noticed, as soon as he went on it, it got better.” Babcock said. “That was a positive thing. I just think his skillset and his hockey IQ leads to him being successful in that area.”

Boston will make no lineup changes for Game 2, including Wingels, who did not skate at practice on Friday prior to the suspension being handed down.

*******If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising your business in the Greater Toronto / Southern Ontario area on this column, please send a message for more information by clicking on the “Contact” button at the top of the page.*******
Join the Discussion: » 1445 Comments » Post New Comment
More from Mike Augello
» A shrinking window of opportunity; new Leafs Convo
» Leafs reemerge at top of the heap on Toronto sports scene
» Contract comparables going in Leafs favor
» Leafs sign Sandin to entry-level deal
» Echoes, Silence, Patience and Gardiner