Clarkson Set For Leafs Debut Tonight
MAPLE LEAFS (7-3-0) at BLUE JACKETS (4-5-0)
TV: LEAFS TV, FS-O
Season series: The now-conference rival Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets meet for the first of three games this season, and the only time in Columbus. Their last meeting was in November 2011, with the Maple Leafs winning 4-1.
Big story: After serving a 10-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation in the preseason, David Clarkson is set to make his Maple Leafs debut.
Maple Leafs: One of the best offenses in the League is about to get even better on Friday when Clarkson plays his first game for the Maple Leafs. After signing a seven-year, $36.75 million contract in the offseason, Clarkson left the bench to defend his teammates in a preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres on Sept. 22, a move that resulted in an automatic 10-game suspension.
"It's been tough but at the end of the day, lucky enough here in Toronto, we have a great staff and I was able to do a lot off the ice to get ready," Clarkson told the Maple Leafs website on Wednesday after practice. "And the boys have been winning which makes it easier. I've watched enough and I'm ready to get back at it."
The Leafs have won seven of 10 without Clarkson, including a 4-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday in which Phil Kessel had a hat trick. Clarkson isn't sure what line he will be on, but is ready to step in and contribute.
"I don't know. We'll find out here where coach puts things but that's up to the coaching staff," Clarkson said. "I grew up a Leafs fan and am lucky enough to be from the city of Toronto. Any time a kid dreams of wearing that jersey and the kid gets a chance to do it, it's pretty special."
Blue Jackets: Coming off of a 4-1 win against the New Jersey Devils, the Blue Jackets look for their first three-game winning streak of the season as they continue a four-game homestand.
James Wisniewski had a goal and two assists after he almost didn't play due to the flu. It was all Columbus after the Devils scored the game's first goal. The Blue Jackets have won back-to-back games by a combined score of 7-2.
"We showed a lot of character in the way we played. It took us a little while to get going but we found a way to win," Wisniewski said.
Wiseniewski, who had four points coming in, set up the Blue Jackets' first goal, scored their third and assisted on the empty-netter.
"He didn't do a lot of campaigning (to play), I just had a brief talk … he knows how he feels. He came out of warmups and I asked him how he felt," coach Todd Richards said after the game.
Who's hot: James van Riemsdyk has multiple points in three of his past four games for the Maple Leafs. … Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik has three points in three games. He has two shots in his past two games; both resulted in goals.
Injury report: Forwards Frazer McLaren (broken pinky) and Nikolai Kulemin (ankle) along with defenseman Mark Fraser (knee) are on injured reserve for the Maple Leafs. … The Blue Jackets will be without Nathan Horton (shoulder), Cody Bass (thumb) and Matt Calvert (abdomen), all of whom are on IR.