Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri could miss another significant chunk of the team’s first-round series after a high hit on Jake Debrusk
Nazem Kadri was the best player on the ice for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 2 against the Boston Bruins. The key word being was.
After a very successful outing in Game 1 at TD Garden, Saturday night’s game was anything but. The Maple Leafs found themselves down 2-0 after the first period before William Nylander handed Danton Heinen a gift on the forecheck to make it a three-goal deficit.
For the entire night, and the series so far, Kadri was going back and forth with Jake Debrusk. The Bruins forward was already hot because of a hit the Leafs centre threw in the previous game that he deemed dirty. In the first period, the two mixed it up and received offsetting minors.
The real issue started near the end of the second period. After Kadri got out of the box for another minor – this time for hooking Brad Marchand – he collided knee-on-knee with Debrusk while cutting through the offensive zone. Kadri stayed down for a moment before heading straight to the locker room. He did return for the final frame. Debrusk didn’t receive a penalty on the play.
The two would once again meet up in the third period. Debrusk would catch Patrick Marleau with a hit along the sideboards. Kadri assumedly went to the defence of his 39-year-old linemate, but instead of dropping the gloves or getting into another shoving match, Kadri saw red and planted his stick into Debrusk’s jaw.
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Kadri received a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. At the time of the penalty, the 28-year-old had scored to get the Leafs to within two goals. Instead of helping his team claw back, he sealed their fate in Game 2. Patrice Bergeron would get his second of the night just a minute into the ensuing power play to give the Bruins the win.
Debrusk will not receive any supplemental discipline for his actions on Saturday night. Kadri, on the other hand, will likely be looking at a hefty spell in the press box.
The NHL Department of Player Safety has offered Kadri an in-person hearing for the hit. Players who are to be disciplined five games or less are given the chance to do a hearing over the phone. However, a player that could receive six or more games is offered an in-person hearing with the DPOS.
Kadri certainly won’t get the benefit of the doubt with his suspension history. This would be the fifth time in his career that he’s been suspended for an illegal check and the eighth time he’s faced discipline from the league – he’s been fined three times.
Barely a year ago, the centre sat out three games of the Leafs’ series against Boston after charging into an already down Tommy Wingels.
That would cost Kadri three games and force the Leafs to play Tomas Plekanec – who was previously the fourth-line centre – in the top six.
It appears as though Kadri could sit out the remaining games of this series. Mike Babcock said following the game that one of William Nylander or Patrick Marleau would take his spot as the third-line centre in the event of a suspension.
During the game, the refereeing was a topic of conversation – on one side more than the other. Many judged that the referees let the game spiral out of control with their inconsistency on penalty calls.
Despite the individual opinions on the job of the referees, the Bruins were the better team on the night. They jumped on the Leafs early and didn’t give their players any time to breathe. Frederik Andersen played another incredible game, but his efforts were wasted by another poor effort from his team.
News of Kadri’s suspension will come down ahead of Game 3, as his hearing with the league is scheduled for Monday, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.
The Leafs are looking at life without him, as they’ll need to find a way to finally defeat the Bruins without one of their most important forwards in the lineup.