(AP) – Nazem Kadri’s head shot on Justin Faulk could send shockwaves through the playoffs for the Colorado Avalanche and the rest of the Stanley Cup contenders. Kadri was suspended indefinitely Thursday pending a video hearing with the league’s department of player safety for his illegal check to the head of St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of the teams’ playoff series.
Kadri already has five career suspensions, including three in the postseason alone over the past five seasons. He could miss substantial time for Colorado, which was the NHL’s top team during the regular season and a popular pick to win the Cup for the first time since 2001.READ MORE: Trevor Woodruff Identified As Suspect In Deadly Shooting Outside Of Walgreens
“A guy like Kadri guy can’t control himself,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said after the Avalanche’s victory Wednesday night put them up 2-0 in the series. “In the playoffs he’s a repeat offender — bad hits, greasy hits, got a guy in a vulnerable position and he picks nothing but the head.”
Two years ago, Kadri was suspended for the rest of Toronto’s series against Boston for cross-checking, a punishment that ended up being five games. Offering a video hearing instead of a call allows the league’s department of player safety to suspend Kadri more than five games, which would leave Colorado without him against Vegas or Minnesota if they advance.
“I’m not happy about it,” coach Jared Bednar said Thursday. “Naz comes and gets physical. You can see it on the tape that he catches him high.”
Kadri clipped Faulk in the head with his right elbow midway through the third period. Faulk left the game, and Kadri was thrown out with a match penalty. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly called it a dangerous hit that was “completely uncalled for.”
Kadri has three previous playoff suspensions on his record in addition to a four-game ban late in the regular season in 2015 for an illegal check to the head. Kadri was suspended four games for cross-checking in 2016, three games for boarding in 2018 and then the punishment in 2019, which was the last the Maple Leafs needed to see before trading him to Colorado.READ MORE: Maize In The City, Colorado Family Tradition, Opens For A New Year
The Avalanche acquired Kadri to help their secondary scoring and add some grit to a skilled lineup led by Nathan MacKinnon.
That combination helped Colorado reach the second round of the 2020 bubble playoffs with Kadri as a dominant offensive force. He put up nine goals and nine assists in 15 games before goaltending injuries derailed the Avalanche.
“We need Nazem,” Bednar said. “It’s not something that we want to be doing all the time, that’s for sure. Especially now, because we could lose our No. 2 center and someone else has to fill those shoes.”
Game 3 is Friday night in St. Louis (7:30 p.m. USA Network). Bednar expects trade deadline pickup Carl Soderberg to step in for Kadri.
By STEPHEN WHYNO AP Hockey WriterMORE NEWS: Colorado Task Force 1 No Longer On Alert Amid Intensifying Hurricane Sam
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