Bruins ready to let league deal with Nazem Kadri's cross-check

Bruins ready to let league deal with Nazem Kadri's cross-check

BOSTON – The Bruins certainly have seen this movie before after watching Nazem Kadri get suspended in last spring’s first round playoff series for a predatory hit on Tommy Wingels. Kadri is facing an even longer suspension this time around with an in-person hearing scheduled with the NHL Department of Player Safety after the Maple Leafs center cross-checked Jake DeBrusk in the face during Boston’s 4-1 win over Toronto in Game 2 at TD Garden.

DeBrusk and Kadri had been going at each other for the entire game with temperatures rising in both players, but the Leafs center finally lost it after watching DeBrusk throw a hit on Patrick Marleau at the stanchion near the Bruins bench. Kadri then skated over to DeBrusk away from the play and blatantly cross-checked DeBrusk in the head before driving him to the ice in a dirty, dangerous play.

After the game, the Leafs hid Kadri away from the media without any comment and a somewhat dazed DeBrusk mostly wanted to avoid comment about the incident.

“First [altercation, was a] scrum on the wall. Two guys going at it. I thought second period, I believe it was Jake hit Kadri [leg-on-leg], but I thought it was clean. Looking back at it, it was shoulder to shoulder. Obviously, Kadri stayed down and that’s his prerogative when he gets hit,” said Bruce Cassidy. “And the last one, I don’t know if it was an altercation. I think he came over and cross checked [DeBrusk] in the face. I assume that would be dealt with or looked at [by NHL Player Safety] and go from there.”

DeBrusk also addressed the “leg-on-leg” hit in the second period where it appeared he was trying to throw a shoulder hit and Kadri went flying after trying to sidestep the hit at the last second, and affirmed that he “is not a dirty player.” The NHL would certainly seem to be backing him up with no penalty on the play, and no follow-up from the NHL Department of Player Safety involving the collision.

“I think that’s up to the league to decide to be honest. It’s kind of a blur to be honest,” said DeBrusk, who appeared a bit dazed after the game and said he’d undergone some tests to determine if he was injured. “I think it was, from what I remember, it was... it was high. I felt it in my face. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

Kadri was suspended for three games last spring for his hit on a vulnerable Wingels into the boards, and his status as a repeat playoff offender along with the dangerous nature of the incident certainly got the NHL’s attention in the worst way possible. The in-game hearing means that the league is considering a suspension of longer than five games for the Maple Leafs agitator, and that would effectively leave him disqualified for the rest of the playoff series against the Bruins.

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NHL Trade Deadline Report Cards: Which teams made the best moves?

NHL Trade Deadline Report Cards: Which teams made the best moves?

There are always winners and losers at the NHL trade deadline.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that a team is going to win a Stanley Cup, obviously, and some of the big winners at the deadline are lousy teams loading up on draft picks and assets for the future.

Still, it’s better to be moving and shaking at the trade deadline like a Carolina Hurricanes team that added Vincent Trocheck, Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen than be a non-playoff team like the Wild that made one early Jason Zucker trade with Pittsburgh before closing their shutters for the week.

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The biggest winner of all might have been the New York Rangers in retaining Chris Kreider with a seven-year contract rather than making him the biggest trade target on the market.

But each team received a grade for what they did leading up to Monday’s NHL trade deadline and we didn’t mince any words.

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Sorry, Bruins fans: bigger doesn't always mean better

Sorry, Bruins fans: bigger doesn't always mean better

Before we begin: No, I have never gotten my ass kicked.

Celtics fans have a reputation for being sheep, but man, when it comes to predictability there isn’t a group of dummies easier to impress than Bruins fans.

Still haven't gotten my ass kicked. Probably getting closer, though.

All you have to do to win over the Bruin brigade is get someone tall and/or "physical." No one will be more willing to overlook actual effectiveness than B's fans. This is especially the case when swapping out a “softer” (though perhaps better) player.

Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes? Downgrade, but fans were ecstatic.

Use Loui Eriksson’s money to sign David Backes? Downgrade, catastrophic move, but fans were ecstatic.

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We got another installment this week on deadline day when the Bruins traded Danton Heinen to the Ducks for Nick Ritchie in a swap of disappointing 24-year-old left wings.  

The national reaction was not kind to Ritchie. The NHL Network's panel was particularly brutal in calling him in an overweight underachiever. 

But around here? Hoo boy, what a coup! We saw 6-foot-2, 234 pounds, 10th overall pick and a bunch of penalty minutes and dusted off Milan Lucic's 2011 jersey. 

I'll admit that as soon as I heard the Bruins traded for Nick Ritchie, I was confused. I remembered his name from the draft, but was unaware that he'd become a good player. And if he was a good player, why was he being traded? He was surely still young, unless I'd misremembered. 

Nope. He was drafted in 2014, same as Heinen. Had 14 goals as a rookie, but hasn't come close to that since. He does have eight goals in 41 games this season, but his shooting percentage this season is an absolute outlier for his career (11.4; his career shooting percentage prior was 8.3). His 19 points are aided by a four-point showing in his final game with the Ducks, the only multi-point game he's had this season. 

He does have 78 penalty minutes, but none of them are from fights. Just misconducts and tripping players who skate past him because they're faster. 

He was fifth on the Ducks in hits per 60, if you want to bring that up, but you shouldn't.  

The same people who like the "hits" stat are often the ones who discredit possession metrics. But "hits" is unquestionably a possession metric. It means you don't have the puck. There is a reason that eight of the top 15 teams in the league in hits are non-playoff teams. They are chasing the play. 

(And by the way, the Bruins are eighth in the league in hits. They absolutely don't need to "hit" more.)

So that's Ritchie in a nutshell; a not-so-good player, but I'm rooting for him. If his acquisition were met with an "eh, maybe he'll uncover something in Boston he hasn't been able to find before," this pretentious-ass column wouldn't be required.

But it wasn't, and here we are. 

And I'll say that I was totally cool with moving Heinen. That guy's arrow was pointing in the wrong direction after an impressive rookie year and so-so sophomore campaign.

So I would have traded Heinen and some combination of picks and prospects for a sure thing. If Nick Ritchie and some cap savings (which you could get anyway by trading Heinen in the offseason) was the best I could do, I would have probably passed. Heinen is not much of a loss (not the way he's played this season, anyway), but Ritchie isn't much of a gain. 

Maybe Ritchie does find new life in Boston. Maybe he becomes a good third-liner. Hell, maybe he scores early in Game 7 of the Cup Final when the other team's goalie is an absolute mess. That was the real reason the Bruins didn't win last year, not because they weren't tough enough.