According to multiple reports, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is expected to make a change to his team’s lineup ahead of tonight’s critical Game 6 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The move? Talented rookie Danton Heinen is out, fourth line agitator Tommy Wingels is in.
Why is this considered controversial? You may recall that it was Wingels who was the recipient of a dangerous hit from Leafs center Nazem Kadri in Game 1 of the teams’ opening round series, a hit that earned Kadri a three game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety.
Remember this ugly hit?
Kadri, who felt that Wingels had elbowed Leafs teammate Mitch Marner in the head, absolutely trucks right through Wingels with his hip in a pretty blatant attempt to injure. In his defense, Kadri commits to the hit before Wingels falls to the ice, but still... that's not a clean hit. In any case, Kadri took his medicine and served his suspension without complaining about the severity or duration of the league's decision. Meanwhile, the Bruins took advantage of an undermanned Leafs squad by winning two of the three "Kadri-less" games against the Leafs.
Game 5 marked Kadri’s return to the lineup, where he helped spark the Leafs to victory, pulling them to within a game in the 3-2 best of seven series. The Bruins hold the advantage and can eliminate the Leafs tonight as the team’s look to settle the score at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre for Game 6. Win and there’s a Game 7 on Wednesday in Boston. Lose and it’s lights out for Kadri and the Leafs.
For what it’s worth, it’s not like the 22 year old Heinen has been terribly effective this postseason, going pointless in four games. This following an impressive 16 goal, 47 point regular season as an NHL rookie. As for Wingels, the 30 year old veteran acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the NHL Trade Deadline, has played just two games this postseason, following 18 games with the Bruins earlier in the campaign. In total, the Evanston, IL native has nine goals and 17 points in 75 games during the 2017-18 campaign.