Boy oh boy we may be in for one hell of a rough series between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs after this sequence of events in the third period.
The Boston Bruins were relatively dominant in Game 1 of their first round match up in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs, controlling the pace of the game outside of a brief moment in the first period and dominating the Leafs on the scoreboard by a margin of 4 - 1 roughly midway through the third period. It was in that third period however that the physical intensity picked up, and whether or not it was purely frustration on the part of the Leafs who were down by 3, or merely the product of both teams gearing up for a tough battle in this playoff series is anyone's guess.
The Leafs were seemingly unable to stay out of the penalty box in the third period and none was more guilty of that than veteran Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri. Kadri was warded a 2 minute minor penalty for charging on Bruins veteran center Tommy Wingels earlier in the third period, although the Leafs bench seemed to think that penalty was absurd, but it was his next hit on Wingels that has garnered all the attention late in this game.
For some context here, Kadri's second hit appeared to be retaliation for a dirty hit that Wingels laid on young Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner. Marner had already been checked by Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara along the boards when Wingels came in to deliver a second hit on Marner, that hit however was not clean. Based on the video replay Wingels appear to get his elbow up and under the jaw of Marner and that impact sent Marner's head rocking backwards, likely what Kadri saw before he decided to obliterate Wingels along the the boards.
In came Kadri to the defense of his teammate, and even though Wingels was already on his way down to the ice after losing his balance, Kadri exploded full force into the hit. The position of Wingels' falling body as well as the position of Kadri's body made it so that Kadri's butt effectively crushed Wingels' head into the boards, an ugly looking hit to put it mildly. Needless to say the officials arm went up immediately and Kadri was awarded a 5 minute major on the play.
Kadri though didn't seem to mind the penalty at all, after all his Maple Leafs were already well out of the game and, to his credit, he had done his job by sticking up for a teammate that had just suffered a cheap shot of his own. Wingels however was left in bad shape, and as he tried to grab onto the boards to lift himself up it was obvious he had no idea where he was. It wouldn't surprise me if Wingels missed some time as a result of this impact, it looked like a devastating hit to the head.
I also won't be surprised if the NHL decides to review this hit and Kadri is forced to sit out one or more games in the playoffs as a result of the hit.