The NHL’s Department of Player Safety isn’t messing around so far in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After giving Drew Doughty a controversial one-game suspension, the league was pressed into action on an uglier-looking infraction by Nazem Kadri. They responded in kind, handing the Toronto Maple Leafs center a three-game suspension for his hit on Tommy Wingels of the Boston Bruins.
So, that translates to Kadri being out Games 2, 3, and 4. If he’s back during this series, it will be because Toronto takes at least one game. Here’s the league’s explanation video:
The Bruins already dominated puck possession as Game 1 went along with Kadri in the lineup. Now Mike Babcock must cope with tough questions about how to react to that 5-1 loss without a versatile, agitating player.
This makes it that much tougher to, say, move Auston Matthews away from the Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak line without suffering even more. That said, it was also an egregious hit by Kadri, who has a history of such decisions and was really running around as Game 1 went along, also delivering a questionable knee-to-knee check earlier on in the contest.
Harsh or not, the NHL is sending a message early on during these playoffs.
Last night, Keith Jones said that Kadri deserved to be suspended “a minimum of three games.” It turns out that Jones hit the nail right on the head.
The Maple Leafs take on the Boston Bruins on Sunday. You can catch the game on NBC, with puck drop coming at 8 p.m. ET.