TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without forward David Clarkson when they play host to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
Clarkson was suspended for two games because of an illegal check to the head he delivered to St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka on Thursday. Clarkson's absence creates a hole at right wing on their third line that could be filled by Jerry D'Amigo or Carter Ashton.
"We have to make a roster adjustment," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "Player in or player out, you have to have a plan A or plan B as far as your roster for that position."
Captain Dion Phaneuf returns following his two-game suspension for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller on Sunday. Phaneuf will return to his spot on the top defensive pairing with Carl Gunnarsson. Carlyle did say, however, the other two pairings will be different but didn't clarify what the changes would be.
Jonathan Bernier was the first goalie off at the morning skate and will likely start.
The Blackhawks enter the game Saturday on a three-game winning streak in which they've outscored opponents 19-6. The Maple Leafs have lost their past three games and have been outscored 14-6.
"In games like this you try to play to your strengths, play our style of hockey, and what's kept us successful the past few years here," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. "We're rolling pretty good right now, but we know we're not going to score six, seven goals every night like we have been."
The Blackhawks had a full morning skate. Rookie goalie Antti Raanta was first off and will get the start. Raanta is 5-0-1 this season and has assumed the starting role because of injuries to Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin.
"He's been a nice story for us," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Raanta. "He's been a real good pickup. He's come in in a tough spot for us and he's responded the right way. He's got an opportunity to play and he's played extremely well. He's very consistent. He's a battler."
Here are the projected lineups:
James van Riemsdyk – Nazem Kadri – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Peter Holland – Nikolai Kulemin
Mason Raymond – Trevor Smith – Jerry D'Amigo
Frazer McLaren – Jay McClement – Carter Ashton
Dion Phaneuf – Carl Gunnarsson
John-Michael Liles – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Mark Fraser
Scratched: Paul Ranger, David Clarkson (suspended)
Injured: Tyler Bozak (oblique), Dave Bolland (cut tendon), Colton Orr (elbow)
Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Kris Versteeg – Michal Handzus – Patrick Kane
Brandon Saad – Andrew Shaw – Jeremy Morin
Brandon Bollig – Marcus Kruger – Ben Smith
Brent Seabrook – Duncan Keith
Niklas Hjalmarsson – Johnny Oduya
Michael Kostka – Nick Leddy
Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Sheldon Brookbank
Injured: Corey Crawford (lower body), Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body), Bryan Bickell (lower body)