Maple Leafs: Kadri back between Kessel and Van Riemsdyk

November 20, 2013 10:25 PM

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Kadri returns from his suspension for Thursday’s hockey game against the Nashville Predators

Nazem Kadri was on the Toronto Maple Leafs top line in practice Wednesday as he prepares to return from his three-game suspension.

Kadri says he won’t change the way he bodychecks other players now that he is returning from a suspension.

Kadri ran over Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, and he’s missed the last three games as a result. The Leafs went 2-1 in his absence.

But Kadri, while realizing his fault in the Backstrom hit, isn’t about to tailor his physical play.

“I guess I’m on probation now,” Kadri said, smiling, after the Leafs practiced Wednesday in advance of their home game against Nashville Thursday.

“But I think I’ve been good in my career. When I make a hit I make sure my hands are down and my (elbows and arms) are down. Maybe I have to pay more attention to it but I won’t be paying too much attention to it, I don’t think I have to change the way I hit people.”

Kadri’s return Thursday was foreshadowed Wednesday at practice, where he suited up on the top line between Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk.

Kadri has played with both before, and he is likely to stay there atleast until Tyler Bozak returns from his injury.

Bozak is eligible to come off the long term injured reserve Thursday, but he only began skating fully with the club in practice the past two days. Saturday is a more likely target for him (against Washington).

“They’re good players and they make it easy on me,” Kadri said about playing on the top line.

“We have a bit of a history so there’s that chemistry there too. I’m just eager to get back into the games, and luckily I haven’t been out too long.”

The Leafs will have to make a roster move and it’s a possibility they return Trevor Smith to the Marlies. But Smith has performed admirably well for the Leafs during a span over the past two weeks where they’ve had their top three centers shelved either due to injury or suspension.

“It was doom and gloom when we saw Kadri was out for three games, and Smith … that’s a credit to the Marlies staff and our scouting staff that they make players available to us who can jump in and do the job.”

Smith practiced Wednesday on the second line between Joffrey Lupul and David Clarkson.

The remaining lines shaped up with Peter Holland between Mayson Raymond and Nik Kulemin on the third line, and Jay McClement between Colton Orr and Jerred Smithson (Carter Ashton, Fraser McLaren, and Bozak were the extras).


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