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Leafs Nazem Kadri gets his chance Add to ...

It's early, but it hasn't been a great start for Tim Connolly so far in Toronto.

The long-time Buffalo Sabres centre hasn't put up a point in two preseason games or shown much chemistry with linemate Phil Kessel. And Monday in practice, he took a spill into the boards that will keep him out of tonight's exhibition game in Ottawa against the Senators.

"Yeah, he's just a little banged up from that crash," coach Ron Wilson said of Connolly. "He's taking the day off. That's about it."

Wilson was short on details but added that the injury isn't serious and won't keep Connolly out for long.

In his place will be Nazem Kadri, who'll get a chance to show what he can do between Kessel and Joffrey Lupul as Tyler Bozak is also out with a minor injury.

"We don't have any more centres," Wilson said. "You have tonight a bit of a mixed up lineup. That happens throughout the regular season. Guys just have to deal with it."

Kadri got a lot of attention today after practice from the media due to the promotion by default. He only has one assist so far in four preseason games but appears to have a spot on the Leafs third line once everyone's healthy.

Wilson sounded more uncertain today where exactly he will fit in, however, than he has earlier in camp.

"Part of this is showing us tonight that he can make the right kind of decision," Wilson said. "Especially in dangerous areas, make a good hockey play, instead of trying always to be beating people 1-on-1. That's part of the process. Gaining that kind of experience.

"He's certainly farther along [than last year]. Makes better decisions. Seems to have created some more offence than he has in the past. He hasn't really been on for any offence but the scoring chances are there. Now we'll see over the next three games when we're facing a better lineup ... where Nazzy fits."

Tonight's projected lineup against Ottawa:

MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin Lupul - Kadri - Kessel Armstrong - Boyce - Frattin Rosehill - Dupuis - Crabb/Orr

Gunnarsson - Phaneuf Liles - Schenn Aulie - Franson

And James Reimer will play the full game in goal in what could be his last action of preseason.

 

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