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An Early Lesson For Kadri

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
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Most kids have to leave home to get an education.

Not so for Nazem Kadri.

Kadri scored a showstopping shootout goal, but was also moved off the top line as the Maple Leafs dropped the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in a marathon 21-shot shootout.

Colby Armstrong, the 11th Leaf to try finally ended the game.

“It had to be done. I think the refs had to get to a game in Montreal,” Armstrong said.

With the game in his hometown of London and played in the arena where he fashioned two spectacular seasons with the London Knights, Kadri was the focal point.

While he has ample time to pick up his play, coach Ron Wilson’s patience is limited.

Wilson spoke to him during the pre-game skate and reiterated what was obvious to all. The dash that made Kadri’s game so noticeable last fall has been absent, first in the rookie camp and now in the exhibition season.

Kadri started on a line with veterans Kris Versteeg and Armstrong but by the third period he was playing with Marcel Mueller and Darryl Boyce.

“The line wasn’t producing any chances so I switched up the line just a little bit,” Wilson said.
“I don’t think he’s performed to his best. He hasn’t been as sharp as he was last year. He needs to realize the battle he’s in.

“We’re not giving him the job. (Tyler) Bozak and (Mikhail) Grabovski have played really well. You see how Christian Hanson has performed and we’ve also got Johnny Mitchell. Naz has to outperform at least two of those guys, if not three or four to earn a spot on the team.”

Kadri understands what is being asked of him.  But so far, he has been powerless to deliver.

“I think (I need to) just keeping it simple,” Kadri said. “When you try to overhandle the puck and make things too complicated, you steer yourself into difficulties.”

The 19-year-old insists he knows he is in for a battle.

“By all means, I haven’t made the team yet. I am not expecting anyone to give me the silver spoon. There are guys fighting for a job. It’s just better competition to push you.”

“This happens a lot in your second training camp,” Wilson said. “Luke (Schenn) made our team in the first year and last year he struggled like heck. It usually happens when you think you’ve got everything figured out and it’s going to be easier. It’s a little bit tougher but we’ve got plenty of time and he (Nazem) is going to get plenty of opportunities.”

Kadri will not play in the rematch at the Air Canada Centre, Friday night but should get plenty of work the remaining four games.

With Tyler Bozak, Nikolai Kulemin and Phil Kessel as well as defencemen Mike Komisarek, Tomas Kaberle and Dion Phaneuf sitting the night out, the Leafs and Flyers staged a physical, entertaining contest. The Flyers did without Mike Richards, Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen. Kingpin defenceman Chris Pronger has been lost to a knee injury until October.

Jonas Gustavsson made the start for the Leafs and surrendered just one goal, kicking the puck into his own net. James Reimer came in at the midway point and after Christian Hanson banked a shot into his own net, Reimer emerged as the overtime hero.

Colby Armstrong and Greg McKegg scored for the Leafs. Marc Andre Bourdon and Bill Guerin scored for the Flyers.


Maple Leafs:
James Reiner, Jonas Gustavsson, Luke Schenn, Colby Armstrong, Mike Brown, Christian Hanson, Francois Beauchemin, Brett Lebda, Matt Lashoff, Kris Versteeg, Luca Caputi, Tim Brent, Jay Rosehill, Nazem Kadri, Marcel Mueller, Darryl Boyce, Ryan Hamilton, Danny Richmond, Korbinian Holzer, Gregg McKegg.

Flyers: Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky, Adam  Morrison, Oskarws  Bartulis, Matt Walker, Bill Guerin, David Laliberte Dan Carcillo, Andreas Nodl, Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, James van Riesmsdyk, Matt Carle, Pat Maroon, Greg Moore, Ben Holmstrom, Jon Kalinski, Mike Testwuide, Andrej Meszaros, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Jody Shelley, Zac Rinaldo, Andrew Rowe, Logan Stephenson, Joonas Lehtivouri.

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