Nazem Kadri Plays Well, Toronto Maple Leafs Winless In Eight
With all the attention the news of the Toronto Maple Leafs calling up Nazem Kadri got everyone could understand if he played poorly last night. Instead, Kadri responded with a spirited game that saw him create a number of scoring chances, make a few nifty plays and register a shot on goal.
Now, let’s not get carried away here, Kadri was not spectacular and, given the fact he didn’t score (which is why he is here) you could easily call his first regular season game of the 2010-11 campaign a failure, but head coach Ron Wilson and general manager Brian Burke had to be encouraged by what they saw of Kadri, which is to say, it’s a start.
Playing on a line with Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin, Kadri looked at ease on the left wing, often making the right decisions defensively and chipping in on offense as well.
What Kadri didn’t do was get caught giving up the puck at the wrong time, which was a big reason he was sent down to the AHL to play on the Maple Leafs’ affiliate Toronto Marlies.
While nobody is ready to suggest Kadri (who played over 18 minutes last night) has suddenly developed into a strong two-way player, his defense was better and, at this point, that’s all the Maple Leafs can ask for; improvement.
As for the game between the Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks the outcome was more of the same.
The Leafs got off to a nice 2-0 lead on goals from Fredrik Sjostrom (his first of the season) and Phil Kessel (who ended a seven game scoreless streak) only to give it right back to the Canucks, giving up a power play marker to Daniel Sedin, followed by a nice wrister from Ryan Kessler (who had two goals on the night).
The biggest gaffe of the game came on the game winning goal when veteran netminder J.S. Giguere failed to close the five-hole on Mason Raymond’s slap shot, a shot that eluded Giggy from what seemed like a mile out.
The Leafs would eventually lose the game by a score of 5-3 and, even though the coach felt it may have been the Leafs best third period in quite some time, it marked the eighth loss in a row for a team that is clearly struggling to find itself and it’s identity.
Next up for the Leafs is a Tuesday night game against the defensively sound Nashville Predators, followed by a game against Ilya Kovalchuk and the struggling New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
After that it’s a Saturday night tilt against the hated Montreal Canadiens, who will be looking to avenge their 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on opening night (October seventh).
If the Leafs are not careful they could easily find themselves with an eleven game losing streak, something that would be all but impossible to recover from (that is if an eight game winless streak is recoverable?).
Look for Kadri to receive similar minutes in his next 3 or four games as Brian Burke and Ron Wilson try to determine what they have in Kadri.
If Kadri is not the answer look for Burke to hit the trade market hard with an eye on acquiring another top six forward (preferably one with an attitude).
Something’s gotta give, right?
Until next time,