Like the rest of his teammates, Joffrey Lupul said all the right things about the Toronto Maple Leafs thin lineup after Tuesday’s loss, noting that every NHL team had to deal with injuries and have players step up from the minors.
What he didn’t reveal at the time was that he was hurting himself, the result of a collision with Colorado Avalanche forward PA Parenteau that left Lupul with a bruised calf that could keep him out of a game or two.
“There’s always going to be people in and out of the lineup,” Lupul said. “I’ve kind of bounced around each and every line early on, but that’s the way it goes. Obviously you don’t expect [Nik] Kulimen to break his ankle at practice and today [Jay] McClement’s out [after his wife] had a baby boy…
“Some of these things, this early in the season, you don’t expect to lose guys like that, but it’s going to happen sometimes. It’s a chance for other guys to step in and play well. You’ve got to be able to play with everyone.”
Like all of the injuries the Leafs have suffered so far, Lupul’s isn’t considered serious. Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said he was merely “day-to-day,” which makes him questionable for Thursday’s game in Nashville.
“He’s coming with us,” Carlyle said. “Hopefully the swelling will have subsided and he’ll be back to normal shortly.”
Added to the absences of Kulemin, Mark Fraser, Frazer McLaren and David Clarkson (whose preseason suspension has six games to go), Lupul’s loss could mean Toronto has to test its minor league depth even further, with another new set of recalls coming on Wednesday before a marathon video and practice session.
Going back to the Marlies were Trevor Smith and Jamie Devane.
Coming in as reinforcements are three players Carlyle said impressed at camp David Broll, Josh Leivo and T.J. Brennan, bringing the Leafs up to the 23-man roster limit.
Brennan, in particular, had a strong showing in his brief time in the AHL, scoring four goals and adding two assists in two games to earn the league’s player of the week honours.
From Willingboro, N.J., Brennan is a 24-year-old offensive defenceman who spent last season split between the Buffalo Sabres and the Florida Panthers and has a shot to draw into the Leafs lineup in the near future.
He has an interesting back story as he didn’t start playing hockey until 11 or 12 but made the QMJHL’s St. John’s Fog Devils at 17 and has had some good offensive seasons at the junior and minor league level.
Like every defenceman in the organization except for Cody Franson, Brennan is a lefthand shot, but he said Wednesday he prefers to play on the right side.
That’s where there may be an opening if Carlyle chooses to sit Paul Ranger, Jake Gardiner or Morgan Rielly against the Predators.
“I like it better to be honest,” Brennan said. “It’s just something I was taught early on. I started playing the right side my first year of junior and I liked it. Trying to be offensive and shoot, it’s easier to get them pucks through.”