TORONTO – He may not have liked the decision, but Nazem Kadri seems to have gotten the message.
Scratched for a night in Texas earlier this month, Kadri has broken out with 10 points in the past four games, including a four-assist performance against Hamilton on Saturday afternoon.
"He responded well," said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins, following a 6-1 win at Ricoh Coliseum. "That's the great thing now and I said it to him the other day, I said 'Boy you've really screwed yourself now' and he didn't know what I was talking about. And I said 'You showed us once again what you can do and how well you can play and that's your benchmark'."
Kadri had accumulated a meager three assists with no goals to speak of after nine games this season. It was at that point with production waning and the Marlies in midst of an eight-game road trip that Eakins deemed a press box visit as necessary for the 22-year-old. "His play was off," said Eakins. "There was a time where he was going through the game, he was getting a ton of chances but wasn't getting rewarded and then he went through a couple of games where there just wasn't any chances. We just thought it was time for him to be pulled from the lineup like we've done with other guys."
"I'm not really too happy about it," Kadri recalled of his thought process following the decision. "It's not something I enjoy. But it's not like I'm going to sit around and pout about it and throw on my sad face or anything. I'm going to come back and have a statement game the next game."
Back in the lineup the following night against San Antonio, Kadri responded with his first multi-point night of the season, posting his first goal along with a pair of assists. "I knew the bottom line was I had to put the puck in the back of the net and help my team that way," he said. "That game in San Antonio kind of turned things around for me. I got the puck in some opportune areas and I made them count."
Now with 13 points to his name after 13 games, Kadri is back on a production pace he needs to sustain. The bar has been raised with this recent four-game outburst. It's up to him to maintain it.