Another night, another lineup shuffle for the Maple Leafs. That seems highly probable, anyways, after David Clarkson's latest setback. Moments after hitting the ice for Saturday morning's game-day skate, the Leafs forward shuffled back into the dressing room, leaving his status in doubt ahead of tonight's tilt against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. "Kind of a little bit of a surprise again today for me, but there was a muscle pulled at the end of (Friday's) practice," Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said. If Clarkson is unable to go, the Leafs could slot in Carter Ashton. Ashton, who has been up and down between the Leafs and AHL Marlies this season and hasn't played with the big club since Jan. 30, has been rehabbing a wrist injury, but appears in the clear to get back into the lineup. The Leafs have been going with a seventh defenceman in recent games, opting to sit out a body at forward. With a hot Flyers team coming in — Philadelphia is 8-2-0 in its past 10 — the hosts can at least take some comfort knowing their minute-eating captain Dion Phaneuf will be available as Toronto seeks out a second consecutive win. Phaneuf had been held off the ice during several practices and a game-day skate earlier in the week as he deals with apparent bumps and bruises, but was back on the ice for Saturday's optional morning session. "Sometimes when you have the opportunity to rest certain things, you want to take the time to do that," Phaneuf said, "because you look at the way our schedule is setting up, we're going to be playing basically every second day for the next 12 days, so there's not a lot of time in there." Phaneuf will be thrown back into the fire, assigned to keep Flyers' high-flying centre Claude Giroux contained, or at the least, limit his ice. "He's one of the top skilled guys in the National Hockey League. He's got hands and patience ... the way that you play him is the same as you play other top guys. You want to take his time away and you want to take his space away," Phaneuf said of Philadelphia's 64-point man. "If you give a player like Giroux time, he's going to make plays and he's going to make you play." Jonathan Bernier did not take part in the optional skate, meaning it's likely he'll get the nod in net for the Leafs, while the Flyers are expected to turn to GTA native Steve Mason. The game also puts back into focus the Toronto-Philadelphia trade featuring Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk and Flyers defenceman Luke Schenn.
Clarkson doubtful for Leafs vs. Flyers
Toronto Sun | Mar 8