Early on this season, it looked like the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to cruise to a playoff spot for the first time in a decade. They’ve stumbled a bit of late, but luckily a key piece of their lineup has returned and has done so with a vengeance.
Joffrey Lupul missed almost two full months of the season with a broken forearm that was sustained when he took a shot from the stick of Dion Phaneuf. He didn’t have a single point in the two games prior to the injury, but his absence was still felt from this Leafs lineup.
Some wondered how long it would take for Lupul to become effective after returning to the lineup. Those questions came despite the fact that Lupul was coming off of a career year in which he notched 67 points, including a career-best 42 assists. Anyone that was asking those questions certainly is not anymore.
Lupul has been terrific since returning from the injury. There was a brief couple of games that he missed there due to a suspension, but the Leafs have taken points in each of the four games that he’s taken part in.
In those four games, Lupul has seven points, including six goals. He also has a plus-5 rating, which is even more impressive given the fact that he was even when he went down with his injury.
The Leafs still don’t look like a serious contender in the Eastern Conference, but they could very well be a playoff team. The fact that Lupul is playing as well as he is will go a long way towards making them a threat in the East.