A pulled muscle was enough to make David Clarkson leave the ice during the morning skate, then it turned out to be enough to keep him out of the Maple Leafs’ game against the Flyers.
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle deemed Clarkson “questionable” Saturday morning after the veteran winger was still bothered by an apparent left leg injury that first happened at practice Friday. Carlyle touted the options available to him, including dressing 11 forwards and seven defencemen, but ultimately decided to dress Frazer McLaren in place of Clarkson, who did not take part in pre-game warm-ups.
McLaren was recalled from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies earlier in the day. He took line rushes on the Leafs’ fourth line alongside Jay McClement and Carter Ashton and then was in the lineup for the fifth time since the Olympic break.
Troy Bodie moved up to fill Clarkson’s position as the third-line right-winger with Mason Raymond and Peter Holland.
Carlyle was surprised that Clarkson’s muscle pull lingered long enough to force a change.
“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,” Carlyle said.
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 is playing 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.”