While much of Leafs Nation is obsessing again over the chances of Roberto Luongo becoming a Toronto Maple Leaf, Joffrey Lupul is quietly enjoying a small honour from the NHL with no plans to spend the team’s three days off monitoring trade-deadline chatter.
Lupul’s five goals and four assists last week in the Leafs’ three-game winning streak brought him this glittering honour, one of the league’s three stars of the week.
“I’ve been getting some bounces,” Lupul said Monday, the first of three practice days until the Leafs get back in action Thursday at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. “It’s a credit to the guys I play with, whether it’s Nazem Kadri or Nikolai Kulemin or [Phil Kessel or Tyler Bozak].”
Kadri, of course, is just as hot as Lupul, and getting most of the attention for his scoring exploits in the last couple of weeks. They clicked immediately when Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle moved Lupul from Bozak’s line to Kadri’s left side.
“It’s nice to be recognized personally,” Lupul said. “The important thing is the week we’ve had [as a team], winning points in seven or eight games. That’s the real reward.”
Even though it is now clear there will not be a collapse like the one a year ago that took the Leafs out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, that has not slowed down the usual talk ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline. It was given a fresh shot of vigour Monday when Leafs general manager David Nonis made it clear he will make a deal for a veteran goaltender to serve as insurance to James Reimer if he gets the chance at a reasonable price.
This may not result in much sleep over the next two nights for Reimer’s backup, Ben Scrivens, but Lupul says part of learning to be an NHL player is dealing with the annual player bazaar and the media build-up.
“We just have to deal with it,” Lupul said. “It’s not something I’ll be focused on. If our team does make a move, it’s something I’ll hear about when I get to the rink. It’s not something I’m going to sit around and watch for to happen.”
Two injured Leafs were cleared to skate on Monday, wingers Clarke MacArthur and Leo Komarov, who had undisclosed injuries. Carlyle said both were to be assessed after practice in hopes they could be cleared for full contact by Tuesday.