It’s only fitting that the Joffrey Lupul should return to the Toronto Maple Leafs this Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets. Almost two months after fracturing his right forearm against the Pittsburgh Penguins when hit by a Dion Phaneuf slapshot, Lupul will make his return the day after watching the Leafs fall 3-1 to the very same Penguins.
“It’s probably not 100 percent,” Lupul said to Jonas Siegel of TSN at Leafs practice on Friday morning. “It’s not like it was before it was broken, but it’s at a point where doctors think it’s safe to play.”
It will be an extra boost for Toronto, who hope to end a four game losing streak and avenge a 5-2 loss to the Jets earlier in the week, and is a huge game in the standings as well, with Winnipeg only one point behind Toronto. The Jets beat the New York Rangers last night to gain sole possession of eighth in the eastern conference. With all teams so close in the standings, a loss could bump the Leafs to eighth; while a win could potential jump Toronto all the way back to fifth.
Offense could be what the doctor ordered for Toronto, as the Leafs have scored two or fewer goals in three of the four losses. Toronto was surprisingly effective in their zone in last night’s loss to Pittsburgh, leading 1-0 all the way until less than eight minutes left in the third period. It all fell apart when an amazing no-look pass from Sidney Crosby found its way to Pascal Dupuis who was wide open. The pass left many fans and players scratching their heads as to what just happened, but it was just another play in just another game for Crosby. A defensive lapse led to Dupuis’s second of the night, and Craig Adams iced it with an empty-netter.
Lupul practiced with Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin Friday morning, while coach Randy Carlyle joked about what expectations people should have of the all-star winger in his return.
“He better score 100 goals,” said Carlyle.
Carlyle went on to say he just wants a good effort from Lupul, and doesn’t “expect him to have a three goal night.” The Leafs bench boss just wants Lupul to play his game and knows the offense will follow.
“Be a good teammate, work hard and play the system and the other stuff will take care of itself.”
To open up a roster spot for Lupul, General Manager Dave Nonis announced that the Leafs had traded center Dave Steckel to the Anaheim Ducks for a seventh round pick in 2014 and prospect Ryan Lasch. Lasch, a 2008 Hobey Baker finalist, is currently playing in Sweden after stints in Norfolk of the AHL and in Fort Wayne of the ECHL.
Toronto also announced a minor-league player swap on Thursday, when they traded forward Nicolas Deschamps to the Washington Capitals for defenseman Kevin Marshall. Marshall, 24, had a goal and four assists in 52 games with Hershey of the AHL this season, along with 77 penalty minutes.