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First Round

Maple Leafs could be without Kadri, consider options for Game 3

Marleau, Nylander among choices to replace center against Bruins

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs could be without center Nazem Kadri for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Boston Bruins on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, NESN).

Kadri will have an in-person hearing Monday at the NHL's New York office after cross-checking Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk at 14:03 of the third period in Toronto's 4-1 loss in Game 2 which tied the best-of-7 series 1-1. Kadri was assessed a 5-minute major penalty and a game misconduct on the play. The in-person hearing gives the NHL Department of Player Safety the option to issue a suspension of more than five games.

"It's disappointing for Naz, disappointing for our team," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said Sunday. "Obviously Naz is a good player but anytime you cross the line, you have a chance to let someone else make decisions as to whether you play or not. The way I look at it today though is you can't worry about that now, we just have to move on."

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Maple Leafs series coverage]

 

Babcock would not confirm what changes he would make to the lineup but said he is considering having forwards Patrick Marleau or William Nylander fill in for Kadri centering Toronto's third line.

"We got all day to keep grinding and work on it and figure it out. Pregame skate we'll have that figured out obviously," Babcock said. "I've got a couple options so we'll work that out and decide what is best so we can get back to playing like we did in Game 1."

If Kadri is suspended, it would mark the second consecutive year in which he incurred a suspension against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round. Kadri was suspended three games for boarding Tommy Wingels in Game 1 against the Bruins last season. 

Babcock said he is not spending much time disappointed that Kadri potentially finds himself in a similar position this season.

"There's nothing I can do about it now. When you prepare your team, you try to prepare them for all situations so you don't cross the line," Babcock said. "You have to play real hard, you have to look after yourself but you can't cross the line. Anytime you leave decisions in someone else's hands, then it's not in your control. 

"I think with anything in life, you want to be in control, you have to own everything. You have to own your play, you have to own your discipline, you have to own what's going on for you and in the end, Naz has someone else making decisions about whether he's playing or not."

With the Maple Leafs potentially without Kadri in Game 3, it puts even more onus on forward Auston Matthews to produce. Matthews hit the goal post in Game 1 but has so far been held without a point through two games. Matthews had two points (one goal, one assist) last season during Toronto's loss to the Bruins in seven games in the Eastern Conference First Round.

"He was much like our team (in Game 2). I thought his Game 1 performance was good even though he didn't score, he was on top of it and had a good 200-foot game. I didn't think anybody was as good in Game 2," Babcock said. 

"I think sometimes we get all caught up in who scored. To me it's all about the team winning but it's real important at this time of year, it's about your drive-train and finding a way to dig in and finding a way to create your own space, win your own battles. The more of those battles you win, the more opportunity you're going to get. He's a young player growing in the National Hockey League and growing at playoff time and these are huge challenges and good challenges for him."

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