As the Toronto Maple Leafs lose their captain for the next two games, it looks like they will be getting one of their regular assistant captains back for their next game.
“It felt good… I think I’m ready to play.”
That is what Joffrey Lupul said after skating with a regular line in today’s practise. If Lupul does indeed return to the Leafs lineup for tomorrow’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, it could not come at a better time.
With captain Dion Phaneuf out for the next two games after a suspension for his hit on Boston Bruins‘ defenseman Kevan Miller, the Leafs will be lacking his leadership quality. Lupul, who some believe should be the captain of the Leafs, will at least replace some of that leadership.
While Lupul can’t take Phaneuf’s spot on the blue line, he is a forward who can play at least take care of his own end. However, he will hopefully add some more offense to a team that has been lacking it in the past few games.
Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle had this to say about Lupul’s proposed return.
“We believe that Lupes can come in and give us that skating ability, that fore-checking ability; leadership… I always caution people because, the longer a player’s out, the more valuable that he seems to become to your roster.”
“We just don’t want to expect too much… And I don’t want him to come out and try to do too much. Because that usually leads to over-exuberance.”
Carlyle should worry less about Lupul doing so much. If history repeats itself, Lupul bring a lot of offense upon his return. He may be an injury-prone player, but it seems each time he comes back, he comes back on an offensive tear. The Leafs need that type of offense this week for sure.
As the next two games for the Leafs are against some of the Western Conference’s best in the Kings and the St. Louis Blues, Lupul’s leadership will be a welcome addition to a Leafs lineup that will surely be needed.