Nazem Kadri is one very talented player and has proven so more often than not in his fourth year as a professional player with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It goes without saying that right behind Phil Kessel, Kadri is the second most talented player on the Maple Leafs squad in terms of skill. That said, Kadri has also proven to be one very frustrating player as coach Randy Carlyle has at times struggled to get Kadri to play to his full potential and with complete focus game in and game out.
In order to get Kadri and a few other of his teammates to come out quickly in their Saturday night game against the rival Montreal Canadiens, Carlyle opted to make a few changes to his line pairings in order to drive the point home of getting off to a fast start while hitting and attacking the Canadiens from the opening puck drop. Needless to say the message was made and delivered as Kadri came out inspired and so did the Maple Leafs who attacked and hit their way to a 5-3 win over the Canadiens and extended their current win streak to four games.
The line change pairings made by Carlyle saw Kadri begin the game with the first line which includes the likes of Phil Kessel and James van Reimsdyk to start the game. This clearly awakened Kadri to who delivered a nice first shift and although he would find himself back playing with his second line mates, Carlisle would get the results he wanted with this strategy as Kadri assisted on the Maple Leafs first goal of the game by weaving his way past the Canadiens defense to set up Cody Franson for the first goal of the game.
In that first period of play, Kadri set up and created three scoring chances while looking lively with the puck and presenting himself as a constant threat each time the puck hit his stick. Kadri carried his fine offensive play into the second and third periods as he would notch up another assist in the second period as he helped set up Mason Raymond on a power play goal to make it a 3-1 Maple Leafs lead at the time. While Kadri had an impressive offensive game, it was his play on defense late in the game that should also be noted and celebrated.
With the Maple Leafs hanging onto a 4-3 lead and the Canadiens pressing for the equalizer, Kadri found himself on the ice for a prolonged shift and having to backcheck for most of his shift. All Kadri did was battle and force the Canadiens into giving away the puck and eventually conceding an empty net goal to Joffrey Lupul. In the end, it was a game where the Maple Leafs maintained a high level of energy throughout and it was the play of one Nazem Kadri that best exemplified the level of intensity that helped the Maple Leafs start strong and finish just as strong.
Lucas Carreras is a contributing NHL writer for RantSports.com. Lucas is also a contributing San Francisco 49ers and Soccer writer. You can follow Lucas on Twitter by following him @maldini3fan and you can add him to your network on Google.