When the Maple Leafs attempt to take a 2-0 First Round series lead on the Lightning Wednesday night they’ll have to do so without Kyle Clifford.
The Toronto forward was suspended one game following his game misconduct during their 5-0 win over Tampa Bay in Game 1. Clifford was given a five-minor major and kicked out of the game for boarding Lightning forward Ross Colton midway through the first period.
Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was no fan of Clifford’s actions, saying afterward, “I didn’t like Cliff’s penalty. Cliff’s hit is not a hit you can make there.”
Prior to Game 1, Keefe said after reviewing game tape on the Lightning he expected a “very physical” series. That was a factor in dressing Clifford, Ilya Lyubushkin, and Wayne Simmonds over Jason Spezza and Justin Holl.
“Those guys are a big part of our identity in that way,” Keefe said Sunday of Simmonds and Clifford. “We can only go off of how the games have been recently, how Tampa has played when they have had success in the playoffs, and how they played the last time we played them. They are extremely physical and competitive.”
Now with Clifford out at least Game 2, there will be tinkering done with Spezza and potentially Ondrej Kase available.