Sheldon Keefe reportedly very upset with veteran Kyle Clifford

Published April 7, 2022 at 1:44 PM
BY MIKE ARMENTI
At the half-way point of Tuesday's road game against the Florida Panthers, the Leafs appeared to be firmly in the driver's seat. Unfortunately, as we all know, the wheels came off for the Buds, resulting in a disappointing 7-6 OT loss, with the Leafs managing to blow a 5-1 lead.

Many might argue that the turning point in that game was the brutal shorthanded goal that rookie Erik Kallgren gave up to Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas, who isn't exactly known for the velocity or accuracy of his shot. However, you can make an equally convincing argument that the real turning point happened at the start of the third period.

At the 2:28 mark into the third frame, during a shift by the Leafs' 4th line, veteran winger Kyle Clifford took an ill-advised and totally unnecessary slashing penalty, which resulted in Jonathan Huberdeau's game-tying goal on the power play, capping off the full-blown collapse, allowing the Panthers to take over all of the momentum at the beginning of the period.

Sheldon Keefe was reportedly very upset over the play, which has resulted in Clifford being listed as a healthy scratch on Thursday in Dallas against the Stars. Jason Spezza also comes out of the lineup after playing just 6:56 in Tuesday's game.


At a point when players are doing whatever they can to prove their worth to their team in an attempt to lock down a spot in the lineup ahead of the playoffs, Kyle Clifford has shot himself in the foot - more than once - with his careless and costly penalties.

The 31-year-old has played just 19 games at the NHL level this year, 17 with the Leafs, and it's plays like that one that have prevented the veteran from being a lineup regular for the Leafs since coming back over from St. Louis. It will be interesting to see whether or not Clifford plays another game this season after the costly blunder.

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