Leafs' Nazem Kadri suspended 3 games for hit in Game 1 loss to Bruins
Centre was ejected in 3rd period of 5-1 defeat for hit on Boston's Tommy Wingels
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Nazem Kadri has been suspended three games by the NHL for his hit on Boston Bruins forward Tommy Wingels in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Kadri was assessed a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct at 8:18 of the third period Thursday after leaving his feet and driving the head of Wingels, who was on his knees, into the boards.
The check came seconds after Wingels caught Leafs winger Mitch Marner with a high hit.
Kadri will miss Game 2 tomorrow night and Games 3 and 4 in Toronto.
Toronto’s Nazem Kadri suspended three games for boarding Boston’s Tommy Wingels. <a href="https://t.co/YKyNt1Kcu0">https://t.co/YKyNt1Kcu0</a>—@NHLPlayerSafety
Prior to the news, Leafs coach Mike Babcock was sanguine about the expected suspension.
"We lost guys all year long. Dig in and play," Babcock said. "Playoffs are real simple: If you win, you play again. If you don't, you go home. We want to keep playing.
"You spend all this time preparing and working. Now we've got to show it."
Kadri pleaded his innocence following Game 1, but was nowhere to be seen at practice on Friday.
Wingels was not on the ice at Boston's practice either, and his status for Saturday remains up in the air.
In Kadri's absence at the Leafs' skate, Patrick Marleau slid from the wing to centre on the second line, with Zach Hyman taking up the veteran's usual spot opposite Marner.
Leo Komarov was bumped up to the first line from the fourth to skate alongside Auston Matthews and William Nylander in Hyman's old slot, while rookie Andreas Johnsson appears set to make his playoff debut in the bottom-six with Tomas Plekanec and Kasperi Kapanen.
"I've gone back and forth all year," Marleau said of moving to the middle. "It's a little bit different, but should be fine."
Babcock said the switch isn't a long-term solution, but one he likes in the interim.
"He's a big body and knows how to play," the coach said of Marleau. "He's a guy who's comfortable in the playoffs, comfortable in the middle. He's been there before."
Hyman was one of the lone bright spots for Toronto in Game 1, scoring on a terrific solo effort to tie things 1-1 in the first period.
"Speed, tenacious on the forecheck, heavy body, goes to the front of the net," Marleau said of his potential new winger. "He creates a lot of room out there.
"Usually first guy to the puck, using his body to his advantage."
The Leafs failed to match the Bruins' intensity early in Game 1, but survived and had a couple of chances to go ahead before the Bruins scored twice late in the second period to put the game out of reach.
The likes of Matthews, Marner and Nylander, who all go their first taste of playoff hockey at this level last spring in a six-game loss to Washington, were unable to find space through a crowded neutral zone, while Boston's top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak led the way for the Bruins with six points combined.
"Playoff hockey is going to be physical, but with two teams that are big rivals that seems to be elevated a little bit more," Matthews said. "We definitely can do a better job in a lot of different areas."
Another topic Friday was an odd exchange that saw Marchand lick Komarov's face after the two came together near the benches — marking the second time the two have gotten close this season.
"It doesn't bother me," Komarov said. "I play hockey and he plays hockey, and he's a good player, and we just keep competing."
Babcock played down Marchand's antics, adding that it's up to his team to try to match the Bruins' best players.
"I saw a real good player working real hard," Babcock said. "The rest of that stuff, that's not what makes him good. What makes him good is he's competitive.
"Their three guys were more competitive than ours, and in the end, that's why they had success."
And for the Leafs to have success and avoid an 0-2 hole before the teams head to Air Canada Centre for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Thursday, they need to get back to the hard work that had them setting franchise records this season.
"It's no different than writing an exam," Babcock said. "If you prepare hard, you expect good results. If you go there and you don't get them, you say: 'What did I do wrong so I can be better next time.'
"That's what this is."