So, your team is down 2-0 late in the second period against a division rival that has provided you with more than a handful of awful memories in the last decade. On top of your recent offensive struggles despite every single one of your top players being in the lineup, you’re coming off a tough 5-4 overtime loss to a team that’s expected to finish in the league basement.
What do you do? You do what Maple Leafs veteran Nazem Kadri did against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night – drop the mitts in a desperate attempt to give your side a boost.
And despite the fact Brandon Carlo is nearly half a foot taller, Kadri handled himself quite well in a match of men in very different weight divisions.
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) December 9, 2018
With no true ‘tough guy’, ‘enforcer’ or ‘goon’ in their lineup, the toughness of the Leafs had been questioned earlier this week. Mike Babcock responded that “our toughness is our power play, take all of the penalties that you want”.
Then, just a day later, Kadri showed that the team has some ‘toughness’ in the department of throwing hands as well. Josh Leivo, who has since been traded to the Vancouver Canucks, had the team’s lone bout this season entering Saturday evening.
When you look at the numbers, you’d think that the 6′ 0″, 192 lbs Kadri would be out of his mind to take on a giant such as Bruins’ defender Carlo (6′ 5″, 212 lbs). However, taking on big dudes is what Kadri does as he’s usually good for one of two fights a season.
Who can forget his lengthy bout and harvesting of facial hair involving San Jose’s Joe Thornton in January of 2018?
Nazem Kadri rips off a chunk of Joe Thornton's beard during their fight 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/hR3Zyadqx6
— Hockey Central (@HockeyCentraI) January 5, 2018
It’s been clear that this element of the game isn’t one that Toronto is too worried about this season. Entering Saturday night, their lone fight major placed them near the bottom of the league. Even with their Kadri’s tussle added to the total, there were still six NHLers that have more bouts to their name alone than the Leafs did as a collective this season, according to hockeyfights.com.
Well, all that changed once the third period rolled around. With the Boston up 6-2, Toronto’s Zach Hyman dropped Charlie McAvoy with a highly-questionable hit. McAvoy had just returned to the Bruins’ lineup after a concussion and Matt Grzelcyk (understandably) wasn’t happy about it.
Following Hyman’s second regular season bout of his young career as well as a five minute misconduct for interference and a game misconduct, Boston’s Chris Wagner charged Toronto’s Patrick Marleau a little over a minute later.
In a classic example of old guy sticking up for old guy teammate, Leafs’ blueliner Ron Hainsey went after Wagner.
— Boston Bruins on CLNS (@BruinsCLNS) December 9, 2018
Seeing Toronto play in this fashion might have reminded fans of the 2013-14 Leafs, a squad that led the NHL with 48 majors. Don’t get it twisted, though. Now with four majors under their belt this season, the 2018-19 rendition is currently tied for 20th in the league with five other teams.
Unlike Toronto, the Bruins know a thing or two about mixing it up. With their three fight majors on Saturday night, they now lead the NHL with 11. More importantly though, they went on to win this wild one by a final score of 6-3.
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