The Leafs are set to face the Jets on Saturday night and in anticipation of what is going to be a slugfest, they decided to bring up some more reinforcements.
This comes a day after Sheldon Keefe told reporters that Wayne Simmonds would be slotting in to replace Nicolas Aube-Kubel on the fourth line. And the intentions could not be more clear with this move: the Leafs are ready for battle.
Both the Leafs and Jets combined for 52 penalty minutes in their last meeting in Winnipeg, with the majority of the infractions occurring in the third period after Jason Spezza laid a big hit on Neal Pionk. While there were not as many fireworks in their most recent outing back in March, that game also saw the two teams record a combined 62 penalty minutes with the Jets accounting for roughly 63% of the infractions.
Toronto is likely expecting another brawl in tonight’s game and are preparing themselves by bringing back Clifford into the mix. While it remains to be seen if it will only be for this contest or if he will get some reps during their five-game road trip, he will certainly prove his worth in tonight’s contest. He will likely slot in to replace Pierre Engvall, who stayed on the ice for extra reps with the other healthy scratches.
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Clifford has gone scoreless in two games with the Marlies along with four penalty minutes to begin the year.
Filip Kral was brought up as injury insurance after Jake Muzzin was sidelined with a neck injury. He did not play in Thursday’s game against the Stars and likely would not have seen much game action unless the blueline was further depleted.
The Leafs likely decided to send him down so that he could play in the Marlies’ weekend tilts against the Grand Rapids Griffins, with the first game taking place this afternoon at 4 p.m. There is a possibility they bring him back after Sunday’s game to join the Leafs out west, but that remains to be seen.
Through the first two games with the Marlies, Kral has gone scoreless.
Buckle up, because tonight’s game just got a whole lot more interesting.
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