Maple Leafs slide Nylander to center vs Bruins

Maple Leafs slide Nylander to center vs Bruins
Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (29) controls the puck ahead of Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

TORONTO (AP) — Winger William Nylander will take Nazem Kadri’s place at center on Toronto’s third line when the Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of their first-round series Monday night.

Kadri was facing an in-person hearing with the NHL’s department of player safety on Monday in New York after his cross-check to the head of Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk in the third period of Boston’s 4-1 victory that tied the series 1-1. The NHL has the option to suspend him for more than five games.

Kadri was banned three games for boarding in the opener of last year’s series with the Bruins and has had seven previous hearings with the NHL since 2013. All four of his previous suspensions involved contact with an opponent’s head.

“He’s obviously gritty, a guy who does it right, a big part of the team,” Toronto star Auston Matthews told The Canadian Press. “We need other people to step up. We’ve lost him before. We feel like depth on this team is something we have and we can take advantage of.”

Nylander will center the line with Patrick Marleau and Connor Brown; he shifted to the middle earlier this season when Kadri was out injured.

“He’s got to play hard,” coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s real simple. The team that played the hardest won Game 1. The team that played the hardest won Game 2. He’s got to compete at a high level with and without the puck.”

Nylander, who had just seven goals in 54 games following a contract dispute that stretched into December, scored in Toronto’s 4-1 victory in Game 1.

Notes: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said DeBrusk and defenseman Torey Krug, who did not return to Saturday’s game after a big hit by Jake Muzzin, will both play Monday.

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