Sports Plekanec steps up for Leafs in Kadri’s absence

01:00  17 april  2018
01:00  17 april  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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Having lost the first two games of the series, the Leafs were also facing a shortage at centre, with Nazem Kadri on a three-game suspension; Plekanec was in Kadri ’ s regular spot “That’s why you have depth, and that’s why we have guys who can step up . “He ( Plekanec ) gets his opportunity.

Matthews had a goal, an assist and a team-high 23 shots through six games. He called Game 7 the biggest of his life. Plekanec steps up for Leafs in Having lost the first two games of the series, the Leafs were also facing a shortage at centre, with Nazem Kadri on a three-game suspension

Tomas Plekanec will be skating on the Leafs’ top checking line against the Boston Bruins in Game 3 Monday night.© Claus Andersen Tomas Plekanec will be skating on the Leafs’ top checking line against the Boston Bruins in Game 3 Monday night.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will turn to Tomas Plekanec to centre their top checking line Monday night when they try and get back into their Eastern Conference quarter-finals series with the Boston Bruins.

Having lost the first two games of the series, the Leafs were also facing a shortage at centre, with Nazem Kadri on a three-game suspension; Plekanec was in Kadri’s regular spot — between Mitch Marner and Patrick Marleau — at the morning skate Monday.

For Plekanec, the assignment isn’t merely a fill-in role for Kadri; it’s all but a certainty the veteran centre who normally sees duty on the fourth line, will match up against Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins’ dynamite top line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

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“That’s why we made the decision we have … when you lose a centre, it opens spots,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said at the morning skate Monday. “That’s why you have depth, and that’s why we have guys who can step up.

“He (Plekanec) gets his opportunity. We’ve talked about that before (Plekanec being ready to fill in other roles than the fourth-line center). He’s prepared for that, he’s done the work for it. I expect him to be good.”

Plekanec, a 15-year veteran with the Montreal Canadiens, was acquired at the trade deadline in February as a shut-down type forward with playoff experience, but he has not lived up to his billing in Toronto. He is a minus-2 through the first two games against Boston after 17 regular-season games with the Leafs in which he registered just two assists.

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“I’ve done that job before (shut-down centre), but like I said, I’m just focusing on the game tonight, focusing on getting a win, that’s all,” Plekanec said.

The Leafs will also insert Dominic Moore on the fourth line centre spot to fill in for Plekanec.

Here’s how the Leafs lines shaped up at the morning skate:

Hyman-Matthews-Nylander

Marleau-Plekanec-Marner

Van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Brown

Johnsson-Moore-Kapanen

Meanwhile, Leo Komarov did not skate with the Leafs on Monday and will miss Game 3, but Babcock said the winger will return to the ice Tuesday.

Babcock said Komarov, who suffered a suspected leg injury after a collision with Kevan Miller in Game 2 in Boston, does not appear to be on course for a long-term injury layoff. The plan is for Komarov to skate Tuesday and Wednesday before deciding on his status for Thursday’s Game 4 at the Air Canada Centre.

“We’ll make a game time decision on him then (Thursday),” Babcock said.

Leafs' Kadri on return from suspension: 'I'm sick of watching games' .
Leafs' Kadri on return from suspension: 'I'm sick of watching games'After serving his three-game suspension for a dangerous hit on Boston Bruins forward Tommy Wingels in Game 1, Kadri made it clear he's excited to get back on the ice Saturday night for Game 5.

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