Joffrey Lupul 'questionable' for Leafs in Columbus

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said Joffrey Lupul is questionable for Friday's game...

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said Joffrey Lupul is questionable for Friday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/ QMI Agency)

Terry Koshan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:56 PM ET

COLUMBUS - The Maple Leafs could be without Joffrey Lupul on Friday night.

It has become a familiar tune for the hard-luck winger, who has suffered several injuries since becoming a Leaf more than 2 1/2 years ago.

The latest is a bone bruise on Lupul’s right foot, an injury suffered during practice on Thursday when he blocked a shot.

Lupul did not participate in the morning skate ahead of Friday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, instead riding a stationary bike while his teammates were on the ice at Nationwide Arena.

“He is questionable for tonight,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. “Unless he has a speedy recovery here in the next four hours, we will make a decision when he is able to come to the rink and prep himself for tonight, somewhere around 4 o’clock, we would suspect we will have an answer on that.”

If Lupul is unavailable, his place in the lineup will be taken by Josh Leivo. During the morning skate, Leivo skated on a line with Nazem Kadri and Jay McClement.

David Clarkson, who will make his Leafs debut after serving a 10-game suspension, was on the right side on a line with Dave Bolland and Mason Raymond.

The James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel trio was intact, while the fourth line likely will have Frazer McLaren, who has recovered from a fractured thumb. If McLaren plays for the first time in 2013-14, he would replace Troy Bodie and play with Trevor Smith and Colton Orr.

Jonathan Bernier will start in the Leafs net. For the Blue Jackets, Sergei Bobrovsky will get the call. James Reimer had been dealing with the flu, but said his health is back to normal.

Coincidentally, Clarkson will skate for the first time as a Leaf on the birthday of his childhood hero, Wendel Clark, who turns 47 on Friday.

“I did not know that,” Clarkson said with a laugh. “There are a lot of things going on.”

The Blue Jackets said they’ll be wary of Clarkson, given that he can score an important goal just as easily as he can get under the skin.

“I just know he is a guy who battles, goes to the net, is gritty, tough, and the past few years his goal-scoring has really took off,” Jackets forward R.J. Umberger said. “Just one of those two-way, complete players.”

Jackets star Marian Gaborik, who saw a lot of Clarkson when they used to square off as members of the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils respectively, agreed.

“I used to bug him when he was in New York,” Clarkson said of Gaborik. “I fought my way into the league. It’s still part of my game, but I think the more I got used to it, the game started to come together for me.

“I had to work at it. You always try to play that game where you are responsible in your own end, can play in the other end. Playing the Devils system, you have to be good at it.”

The Leafs (7-3) have done well in Columbus, winning three of four games with the lone loss coming in overtime in March 2003. It’s a tireless Jackets club that they will face on Friday, never mind Columbus’ 4-5 record through nine games.

“They’re a hard-working, honest team,” Carlyle said. “They are going to try to push the pace and try to be on the puck. Their tape shows that. They have had kind of a re-make of their team, their goaltender has given them some life. They have stability back there and they have a young group.”

The game will mark the first time Leafs rookie Morgan Rielly plays against fellow defenceman Ryan Murray, who was taken second overall in 2012, three spots ahead of where the Leafs took Rielly.

While Rielly still is looking for a roommate in Toronto upon being told he is staying in the NHL, Murray and Jackets teammate Boone Jenner have found an apartment together after receiving the news this week that they will be remaining in Columbus.

 


Videos

Photos