It was the Nazem Kadri show twice this week in Toronto!
BY: Jeff Schneberk
Randy Carlyle called Nazem Kadri’s three-assist showing last night at home against the Florida Panthers the best he has seen in a long time. I guess Carlyle forgot about Kadri’s hat trick last season on the Island eh? Lol.
Oh well, I didn’t forget that but last night’s performance by the native of London was huge in its own way, especially for someone who loves goal scoring goals like Kadri does.
He helped to light up the Panthers last night when it looked as though the Leafs might be the ones getting lit up. Two Florida goals early in the game made it look to be another long night against a team these Leafs should have no problem beating up on. As it turned out, they didn’t have any problems after the 2-0 Florida goal scored by Sean Bergenheim.
Toronto also topped Tampa Bay back on Tuesday night, Jonathan Bernier made the save of the game on Martin St. Louis. And guess who else got in on all of the action that night too? That is correct, the Nazmanian devil. In fact he was so close to recording his first hatty on home ice, and these weren’t those in-off-his-ass type goals that some guys tend to score, these were beauties…wrist shot from just inside the blueline, no screens in front of Tampa tendy Ben Bishop, he just couldn’t stop the puck. He could have used the same excuse on the next Kadri goal too. Taking a nice feed from Joffrey Lupul, Kadri danced in alone and beat Bishop on the glove side and then for an entire period-and-a-half at the ACC he had everyone sitting on the edge of their seat wondering if he would get that huge third goal. He didn’t get it of course, but it was sure fun watching for it.
Kadri got his good night started with about five minutes left in the opening period (there are few times in a hockey game that are better to score in than the last five minutes, it restores any confidence lost earlier in the period and usually gives plenty of positives to dwell on during the intermission. Kadri’s first assist came when he set up point man Cody Franson who beat Scott Clemmenson over the left shoulder.
“It’s a great achievement for myself, but hopefully there’s a lot more to come,” said Kadri, who has two goals and five assists on his current point steak. “You got to think to yourself when the points are coming easy, it’s just not all about that, you got to make sure you’re good in your D zone, bearing down on face-offs and just allow the coaching staff to put you on the ice in those crucial situations.”
“Nazy was a difference maker tonight,” said Carlyle. “That’s probably the best game he’s played in a long time and at both ends of the rink obviously with the points and distributing the puck, that was making some big league plays.”
Toronto (29-21-6) also got goals from Mason Raymond, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak as they extended their win streak on home ice to five games.
Only 27 second into the second period, Kadri’s teammates took over for him. Mason Raymond scored for the first time in a million years on a wrist shot, assists to Troy Bodie and Tim Gleason. Is it just me or is Tim Gleason making his way on the score sheet more often than any of us thought he would? This guy is a tough guy!
With the game tied up a 2-2, James van Riemsdyk continued to show why he will be wearing the Team USA jersey next month/week at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. If this Leaf team makes the playoffs, look out! Olympic buddy Phil Kessel set him up (big surprise!) and Dion Phaneuf recorded helper number 17 on the season.
That was it for scoring in the second period but the fun did not stop there. Three-two Leafs when ANOTHER Olympian Nikolai Kulemin did it again for Toronto, beating Clemmenson with a snap shot from the top of the slot and now we got a hockey game. Lupul and Kadri got the assists. Four-two Leafs when Lupul scored his 16th of the season with guess who getting one assist and Morgan Reilly getting number 15 on the season. Kadri’s assist was his 24th (and there are still people out there probably that will argue he should be traded…).
FLORIDA HOCKEY ROUND 2 NEXT WEEK
Florida wasn’t done yet with their scoring. Dmitry Kulikov made it 5-3 at 14:29 of the third; Marcel Goc got the assist. And Tyler Bozak rounded out the scoring beating Clemmenson from the far edge of the faceoff circle and that rounded out the 6-3 win. Kessel picked up assist #30 on the year.
Things get interesting next week as it is Toronto’s turn to do some running around, making stops at St. Pete’s Times Forum in Tampa and then onto Sunrise to do re-matches with both the Lighting and the Panthers.
Before that however, it’s Toronto vs Ottawa in another classic edition of CBC Hockey Night in Canada.
Toronto finally decided it was time to give up on defenseman Mark Fraser, as Steve Mirtle from The Globe pointed out, …”for basically nothing.” Two players come to Toronto and neither of them are currently with the Edmonton Oilers; one is with a farm team somewhere, the other dude is with the KHL, I am told. Anyways, reasoning behind the move supposedly is to make salary cap space for some guy named Dave Bolland lol.