As a result, Lupul wasn’t on the ice with his teammates at Nationwide Arena before facing the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. While he did complete a 20-minute workout on the stationary bike, coach Randy Carlyle made it sound unlikely that he would appear in the first of back-to-back games for the team.
Lupul has been a top contributor for the Leafs between his injured stints. In 92 regular-season games dating back to the start of 2011, he has 42 goals and 95 points.
His replacement against Columbus was expected to be Josh Leivo, the 20-year-old winger who has unexpectedly seen in action in six games already this season because of the team’s injury issues.
Meanwhile, David Clarkson was beaming in the hours before he made his long-awaited Leafs debut. The winger signed a US$36.75-million, seven-year deal as a free agent in July but had to watch the opening 10 games after getting suspended in pre-season for jumping off the bench and joining a fight.
He’s been doing a lot of extra on-ice workouts over the last three weeks.
“It was tough,” said Clarkson. “You dread when the coach blows the whistle and practice is over because you know you’ve got another half hour left of skating.”
Among the other lineup notes for Toronto on Friday was the expected return of fourth-line grinder Frazer McLaren, who has been out since training camp with a broken pinky finger on his right hand, and the fourth straight start in goal for Jonathan Bernier. He is 2-1-0 lifetime against Columbus.
Carlyle also delivered a stern warning to the group about the importance of wearing the plastic ankle guards they’ve all been provided– something that probably would have prevented Lupul’s latest injury.
“We addressed it on the ice,” said Carlyle. “It’s just about common sense, guys – you don’t drive your car anymore without a seatbelt. It’s basically the same principle.”
Toronto returns home after the game to host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
Toronto is tied with Boston for first overall in the Atlantic Division … The Blue Jackets are coming off victories over Vancouver and New Jersey … The Leafs have the NHL’s second-best power play and fourth-best penalty kill … Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is 3-5-0 with a .921 save percentage … Marian Gaborik leads the Blue Jackets with four goals and nine points in eight games.
The Blue Jackets are 29-0-0 under coach Todd Richards when leading after two periods … Clarkson is three goals shy of 100 for his NHL career … Nathan Horton, who signed a seven-year contract with the Blue Jackets over the summer, is still recovering from shoulder surgery … Columbus is averaging 31.3 shots per game while Toronto is generating 26.8 … This is just Toronto’s fifth ever visit to Nationwide Arena since it opened in 2000. The Leafs are 3-0-1 here.
— QUICK QUOTES
“It’s definitely exciting to be back at again and a part of the locker-room. It’s just the little things that you miss not being around the guys, so it’s been good.” – David Clarkson on making his Leafs debut.
“He used to be more of an agitator; now he kind of became more of a guy that can score goals as well and just play hard in tough games.” – Jackets forward Marian Gaborik on David Clarkson.
“We think as a forechecking hockey club that you don’t go in and swing by people; you go in and take the body. I would say that we haven’t done a very good job of that but yet we look at our group and say that we’re