Sports Plekanec steps up for Leafs in Kadri’s absence

01:00  17 april  2018
01:00  17 april  2018 Source:   Toronto Star

Plekanec comes through in bigger role for Leafs

  Plekanec comes through in bigger role for Leafs Forward Tomas Plekanec was waiting for a chance to show Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock he was more than just a depth guy. Looking to avoid an 0-3 series deficit against Boston, Plekanec had his best outing as a Leaf on Monday in Toronto's Game 3 victory over the Bruins, much to Babcock's satisfaction. He played 17:58 — the most ice time he's had in 20 games with the Toronto since being acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline — in a top-six role alongside Mitch Marner and Patrick Marleau.

In Kadri ’ s absence at the Leafs ’ skate, Patrick Marleau slid from the wing to centre on the second line, with Zach Hyman taking up the veteran’s usual in Hyman’s old slot, while rookie Andreas Johnsson appears set to make his playoff debut in the bottom-six with Tomas Plekanec and Kasperi Kapanen.

Leafs acquire Plekanec from Habs in deadline deal. With Matthews, Kadri and Tyler Bozak and Plekanec down the middle, Toronto now rivals Pittsburgh for the best collection of centres 1-through-4 in the NHL. Sunday was a small step towards that.

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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QUESTION: How do you see Kadri ' s role changing now that the Leafs have a designated checking I’m really happy and impressed with the Plekanec addition; just saw him step on the ice for practice But the Tomas Plekanec trade is just about up there with the last trade the Leafs made with the

TORONTO — With the Maple Leafs needing someone to step up in the absence of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner delivered a four-point performance to lead Toronto to a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on More sports stories. Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Plekanec in deal with Montreal Canadiens.

“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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Mike Babcock has made no secret of the fact he’d like more options at centre, and can now roll out a strong group of Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri , Tyler Bozak and Plekanec – at least once Matthews is healthy. Tomas Plekanec adds versatility and experience to the Leafs .

When the Leafs stepped off the ice after the morning skate in Tampa, the roster was the same as when they left the dressing room. Some figured that Plekanec ’ s arrival would allow Babcock to keep William Nylander on the right wing—a Zach Hyman- Plekanec -Nylander line in Matthews’ s absence .

“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:



Van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Brown


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 forward Leo Komarov to miss Game 3 against Boston .
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov will miss Game 3 against the Boston Bruins because of a lower-body injury. Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said at Monday morning’s game-day skate that the 31-year-old Finn is day-to-day and that he hopes to have him back for Game 4 on Thursday. "He’s going to skate tomorrow, and then will skate the following day and be a game-time decision (for Game 4)," said Babcock. Centre Dominic Moore will take Komarov’s spot in the lineup. Moore sat out the first two games of the series as a healthy scratch.

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