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MacArthur making the most of his opportunities

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Veteran Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Clarke MacArthur is learning about the highs and lows of participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Having never been in the playoffs before in his seven-season career, MacArthur suffered the indignity of being a healthy scratch in Games 2 and 3 of Toronto's best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Boston Bruins, but now has goals in back-to-back games as the Maple Leafs won 2-1 Friday in Boston to remain alive.

Game 6 is Sunday in Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS).

"I just wanted to stay ready in practice," MacArthur said. "You never know when you're going to get the chance to play again. It was nice to get back in and help the team."

MacArthur made his biggest contribution early in the third period of Game 5. He raced into the Boston zone along the left-wing boards, cut to the net, zipped past Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk and deftly deked goaltender Tuukka Rask to his backhand. Kind of made it look easy.

MacArthur had a decent regular season, totaling eight goals and 20 points in 40 games, but one never had the feeling his job with the Maple Leafs was secure. So it really was no shock that after Game 1 the coaching staff decided to replace him.

"As you make decisions on playing personnel, you do an evaluation and we felt after the first game somebody else would be able to step in and give us a better game than what Clarke did," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "That's basically it. You make those decisions, and at this time of the year they are critical ones. Sometimes they work for you and sometimes they work against you. For him, he didn't feel good about it and you don't expect a player to accept it. You'd be really disappointed if he wasn't upset with us or himself. He has responded coming back into the lineup and he found a way to get a goal in each game. He has to continue to play and be hard on the puck."

Carlyle said all players are motivated differently, and in MacArthur's case, there are times when he can be his own worst enemy.

"With Clarke it is a confidence issue," Carlyle said. "When he has it he's an effective player and when it leaves him, he's left wondering where it has gone and where he is on the ice. Sometimes with his decision-making he's not with the flow of the game. That has been eliminated in the last two games. We've spotted him, playing him seven to eight minutes, but I guess we’ll take seven to eight quality minutes and a goal each night."

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