Toronto Maple Leafs’ Kyle Clifford to have phone hearing with NHL for boarding Ross Colton in Game 1

Facing the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, the Toronto Maple Leafs iced just two players with Cup rings for Monday night’s opener. In Game 2, it looks like they’ll only have one, as left-winger Kyle Clifford has been granted a phone hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

With just 6:59 remaining in the first period of Game 1, Clifford caught Lightning center Ross Colton with a base hit from behind. With Colton’s back to Clifford the whole time, Colton never saw Clifford at all. It was an open and closed affair, with Clifford earning a five-minute major for boarding and a game foul.

The Leafs killed the five-minute middle finger, got a major momentum change, and ended up winning the game, but realized they had dodged a bullet with the misbehaving Clifford.

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« Cliff’s hit is not a hit you can make out there, » Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe admitted after the game, although he felt the Leafs’ fourth line had been better with Clifford than without him all season.

Clifford was previously fined $2,500 by the DOPS less than two weeks ago for bringing up the Lightning’s Corey Perry in the Leafs’ last regular season meeting with the Lightning. Clifford has been fined three times in his career but had never been suspended before Colton struck on Monday. Whether Colton finished the game will not affect Clifford’s suspension, but it will shorten the length of any ban.

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