Nazem Kadri gets tangled in Maple Leafs’ playoffs woes!
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Nazem Kadri gets tangled in Maple Leafs’ playoffs woes!

Not again?!!



This can’t be happening again, right Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans?! Last night, Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting received a match penalty for an illegal check to the head on Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak during the teams’ first game of their Round 1 series. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced after the game that Bunting will have a hearing on Wednesday afternoon for the incident.

Many reports emerged following the incident, which took place in the second period when Bunting appeared to hit the unsuspecting Cernak in the head in front of the Bolts’ net. Cernak, who did not have the puck, fell backwards to the ice and went to the dressing room. He did not return to the contest.

As it was expected, Bunting’s situation is now being compared to what happened to forward Nazem Kadri in the first round series of the 2019 playoffs against the Boston Bruins. Kadri was suspended for the remainder of the first round by the NHL’s department of player safety for delivering a dangerous cross-check to the head of Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk. The Maple Leafs were consequently eliminated from the postseason with Kadri looking on from the press box. Kadri was also suspended during the 2018 Leafs-Bruins series for a high hit on Tommy Wingels, for which he was banned three games.

The Athletic’s Joshua Kloke couldn’t help but bring Kadri back into the discussion as we await the league’s verdict on Bunting.

“It’s hard not to pick up some serious Nazem Kadri vibes from this whole sequence of events. The former Leafs forward was a long-time fan favourite for his physical, heart-on-his-sleeve approach, but was suspended in both the 2018 and 2019 playoffs for hits that even with the benefit of hindsight, look questionable.

"Both Kadri and Bunting are players who play on the edge: they can get under the skin of opponents but they’re also counted on to contribute offensively. Back-to-back 23-goal seasons for Bunting for a measly $950,000 cap hit is a tremendous value, but that comes with an inherent risk: Bunting led the NHL in penalties taken among NHL forwards this season.”

Bunting didn’t speak to the media after the game, but it’s a clear fact that he has struggled with discipline this season. It remains to be seen if Bunting will be suspended, which if yes, comes with loads of questions. How long? Who takes his spot? Can he be trusted after that?

But one question that will remain unanswered is why Bunting pulled that move on Cernak to put the Maple Leafs’ series in jeopardy?

Not sure even Kadri can answer that one…

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