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Maple Leafs experiment with Nazem Kadri on penalty kill

From The Star

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock cautioned not “to read too much” into Monday’s practice, where he had centre Nazem Kadri off the power play and taking reps on the penalty kill.

“It wasn’t about that,” Babcock said, referring to Kadri’s absence on the power play.

“We think he’s going to be good on the penalty kill. We were going to do it for next season, but here we are today, and we needed to get him some reps there in practice. He’ll be back on the power play in the morning skate (Tuesday prior to the Leafs road game in Philadelphia).”

Babcock said Kadri’s introduction to this season’s penalty kill will be gradual. Kadri, 25, last had a regular role on the Leafs’ power play in 2013, where he spent seven games on it under former coach Randy Carlyle.

Babcock, meanwhile, also changed up the look on his powe rplay in practice. He had a second defenceman — mostly Morgan Rielly — on the unit, a different arrangement to the normal four forward, one defenceman set up the Leafs have gone with for most of the season.

Still mending: With the Leafs struggling to score goals, there was chatter about the immediate future of William Nylander, and whether he could help Toronto’s offence over the remainder of the season.

Toronto has scored five goals over its current five-game winless streak.

Nylander has been skating on his own since suffering a head injury in the opening game of the world juniors just after Christmas.

Nylander was leading the AHL in scoring prior to the injury (he’s fifth now). The Leafs have so far remained steadfast to their plan to keep Nylander in the AHL all season.

Reimer vs. Flyers: Babcock said he will start James Reimer in goal Tuesday against the Flyers but gave no indication of his goalie plans after that.

“I know Reimer is starting in Philadelphia,” Babcock said Monday after practice.

The belief now is that Reimer may get a run in the Leafs net, depending on the level of his game. His last win came on Nov. 20 as part of a personal four-game winning streak. But he has not recorded a win in six games since, all while trying to find his game after a lengthy battle with a groin injury.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from a previous version to correct that William Nylander has been skating on his own since suffering a head injury at the world juniors.

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