BOSTON — Suffice to say Nazem Kadri hasn’t exactly endeared himself to Bostonians.
One year removed from a three-game suspension for boarding then-Boston Bruins forward Tommy Wingels, Kadri on Saturday found himself tossed from Game 2 of the B’s first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With just under six minutes left in the game, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk laid a big hit on Patrick Marleau. Kadri responded to the hit on his linemate by quite clearly cross-checking DeBrusk in the head. It sent DeBrusk to the ice for a moment, but when he snapped up he clearly was irate. That resulted in a five-minute cross-checking major for Kadri in addition to a game misconduct.
The Bruins scored a minute into the non-releasable penalty, securing the 4-1 victory to even the series.
That wasn’t the only tussling between the two during the game. In the first period, both were slapped with roughing penalties for going at it along the boards. It easily was the most tepid of the two forwards’ skirmishes on the night.
In the second period, Kadri dashed across the ice and was met with a hit from DeBrusk. The way Kadri went flying seemed to indicate DeBrusk either had laid a heavy hip check or gone knee-to-knee on Kadri, but regardless it sent the Leafs center to the ice for a few moments, prompting the attention of the medical staff. Kadri ended up being fine (clearly, given his cross-check on DeBrusk came the next period), but it didn’t seem to please the Leafs at the time that DeBrusk was not given a penalty.
Kadri has a history and was offered an in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety for the cross-check. Given he was offered an in-person hearing, he’s probably going to get much more than a slap on the wrist.
After the game, Toronto players weren’t able to predict if they’d be without their third-line center in Game 3 and possibly beyond.
“I don’t know,” Auston Matthews said. “I didn’t really have a good angle of the play, so I don’t really have an answer for you.
“It happened so quick. It looked like it was a knee,” Matthews said of DeBrusk’s second-period hit on Kadri. “Like I said, the refs are trying to make the best call and do what they feel is right, obviously. So it’s a fast game out there, stuff is happening at high pace and they’re (trying to make calls) the best they can.”
When the play happened, maybe the most irate of all the Leafs was alternate captain Morgan Rielly. The defenseman was incensed, screaming at DeBrusk and appearing hellbent on trying to make him answer for it, prompting officials to hold him back.
Rielly later admitted he didn’t have a good angle of the hit, and that his reaction was based on how Kadri went down.
“I was behind the play, I didn’t have a good angle of it,” Rielly said. “Of course, right when it happened just judging by the way Naz went down it didn’t seem great, but I haven’t watched the replay. I talked to the ref, he said he jumped and it was just a big hit, so it is what it is, that stuff happens.
“I have no idea (if Kadri will be suspended for the cross-check), I haven’t watched it.”
John Tavares was pretty direct — he thought DeBrusk went knee-to-knee on Kadri.
“I mean, we thought it was,” Tavares said. “It is what it is, you just try to move on and prepare for the next shift. … It looked like a knee-on-knee to us, it is what it is. Just got to move forward and worry about the game that’s ahead.”
Kadri was not made available to the media after the game, however DeBrusk was.
The last Bruins player to speak in the locker room, DeBrusk — who reportedly won’t have a hearing for his hit — acknowledged that he had tests run, but didn’t know the results at that point. Usually one to give thorough answers, DeBrusk didn’t launch any harpoons about what transpired.
“Yeah, I think it’s up to the league to decide (if Kadri should be suspended), to be honest,” DeBrusk said. “I’ve got no comment on that.
“It’s all kind of a blur, to be honest,” DeBrusk added about the cross-check. “From what I remember, it was high. I felt it in my face, yeah, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
The 22-year-old hadn’t seen the replay of his second-period collision with Kadri, but said he didn’t intend to do anything malicious.
“I have to see it, to be honest,” DeBrusk said. “I’m not a dirty player, I don’t think I intended to knee-on-knee him. I’ve got to see it, to be honest with you.”
While DeBrusk wouldn’t go into a ton of detail, David Backes was pretty straightforward in his assessment.
“Late. Cross-check. High. In the face, without the puck, really,” Backes said. “I think it’s — I’m sure the Department of Player Safety will be looking, and we’ll let them do their job and we’ll keep playing whoever is in their lineup. If he’s in, fine. If he’s not, fine as well. We’ll put the same sort of game out there and concentrate on what our prize is and that’s winning the next one and winning the next one until they say this thing’s over.”
Antics aside, Kadri is a skilled player, and Toronto losing him will hurt. But there’s at least three more games left in this series, so it’ll be interesting to see how long the league plans on keeping him out of it.