|Toronto Maple Leafs Joffrey Lupul skates on the ice during the first period of their NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils in Toronto February 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
MONTREAL — Scoring was on Joffrey Lupul’s mind Thursday night, not settling personal scores.
Lupul was jumped by some local media after the Maple Leafs’ morning skate and asked about his intentions to get back at the Canadiens’ pesky P.K. Subban. Twelve days earlier, the rookie defenceman had embarrassed and enraged Lupul during the prelude to a fight, when he threw a punch while Lupul was trying to take off his helmet. As this was not the first time the abrasive Subban has riled an opponent, Lupul was quite vocal after the game that the youngster was asking for trouble in his NHL career if he carried on with such antics.
“Right now we can’t worry about fighting, settling scores and (trash) talking,” Lupul said Thursday morning. “These points are too important to us and I’m sure they’re important to them, too. The last thing we’re going out here to do is settle scores. It’s a rivalry game as it is, but it doesn’t matter who we play right now.”
Lupul had just joined the Leafs and was anxious to make a good impression. But like most of the Leafs in that 3-0 loss, he was stymied by Carey Price and frustrated at the lack of effort around him. Getting bopped by Subban, who is an inch shorter, did little to improve Lupul’s mood.
“(The emotional comment) was me getting caught up a little bit after the game,” Lupul said. “They asked me a question and I answered it. He apologized, he said on the ice he didn’t know I was going to take my helmet off. To be honest, it’s in the past.”
After that game, Toronto went on a 3-0-1 run.
“Maybe that game was a bit of a wake-up call for us,” Lupul said. “It was a frustrating night, Price shut us out and I don’t know if he had to make any really big saves. Usually you have a loss and you move on, but that’s one we have to keep in our minds.”
Lupul had three assists and was a minus-4 in his first six games as a Leaf before Thursday. The Leafs have been careful not to heap too many expectations on him right away since he did miss a chunk of time with two back surgeries and a related infection.
“I’m not really going to use that as an excuse,” Lupul said. “I’m actually pretty happy with the way I am playing right now. I know if I can get to five or six shots every night, eventually they’re going to go in. I’m frustrated they haven’t so far, but we’re winning games. It’s not like we’re losing these games 2-1. That would be a lot more frustrating. I’m going to keep shooting, keep going to the net and I’m going to get one soon.”