Clarkson questionable for Leafs versus Flyers

The Canadian Press

3/8/2014 12:46:32 PM

TORONTO -- In coach Randy Carlyle's estimation, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had to make last-minute lineup decisions much more this season than usual, and they'll have to again Saturday night before facing the Philadelphia Flyers.

Winger David Clarkson left the morning skate with a pulled muscle and is considered questionable. It's believed to be the same left leg problem that crept up at the end of Friday's practice although Carlyle didn't figure that would still be bothering Clarkson.

"Kind of a little bit of a surprise again today for me," Carlyle said. "We have to make a decision later this afternoon."

Carlyle said the Leafs have the option of recalling a player or dressing 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Carter Ashton could be inserted into the lineup up front or Toronto could go with 11 and seven for the sixth time in seven games.

"There is some options," Carlyle said. "It's always tough when you're missing quality players, and nobody wants to do that, but in the situation if the player is not deemed healthy by our medical staff and himself, then we have no other choice other than to make decisions."

Clarkson has four goals and six assists in 43 games for Toronto after starting the season with a 10-game suspension. Those 10 points are good for 14th on the team and tied with Dave Bolland, who hasn't played since November.

Captain Dion Phaneuf will be in the lineup against Philadelphia as Carlyle said Friday. Phaneuf took part in the morning skate, his first time on the ice this week with teammates outside of game action.

"I feel good," Phaneuf said. "Obviously when you're not on the ice for a couple days, you want to get back, feel the puck a bit before you go right into a game."

Phaneuf, who leads the Leafs in average ice time at 24:19 a game, has played in every game this season except the two he was suspended for boarding Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins. That included games this week against the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers.

Taking some time off between games is a matter of preservation for Phaneuf.

"Sometimes when you have the opportunity to rest certain things, you want to take the time to do that," he said. "You weigh how much hockey's going to be played.

"For me, it was good to be able to get those couple days to recharge and to rest a couple bumps and bruises."

More than bumps and bruises have kept Bolland and tough guy Colton Orr out. Bolland hasn't played since having a tendon on the back of his ankle sliced Nov. 2, while Orr has been out the past six games.

The Leafs open a five-game road trip Monday in Anaheim, and Carlyle hopes Bolland and Orr will be available by the end of it, March 17 at Detroit.

"Orrsy skated again today, so Orrsy's getting close," he said. "And with Bolland, it's a situation as we've talked about before where we're just waiting and biding our time and hopefully rebuilding that ankle, that area.

"He'll give us the green light when he says he's ready."