On his third shift of the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at home, Maple Leafs star Joffrey Lupul was hit in the head twice as he was sandwiched along the sideboards and was knocked out of the game.
Randy Carlyle did not seem concerned that the head injury to his star player Joffrey Lupul was as serious as it appeared in the first period on Thursday.
"You always take these situations with caution," said the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach, who lost Lupul 7 ½ minutes into the game. "He feels well now."
Carlyle went on to report that Lupul was 50-50 as to whether he will practice on Friday.
Hall came in from the blue-line side and accidentally butted heads with Lupul. As Lupul bounced to the left from the impact of the Hall hit, Lupul was struck on the left side of his head by Rosehill's shoulder pad.
After the nasty collision, he wobbled to the bench and needed help from a teammate to find his way through the door. Television cameras caught him saying moments later to a Toronto trainer, "It's my left side."
A couple minutes later, Lupul made his way to the dressing room to be examined and he never returned. Of course, the Maple Leafs hope their prized 29-year-old forward returns to action soon. But head injuries are difficult to predict.
"It's not an easy thing," said Toronto defenceman John-Michael Liles, who missed time with a concussion last year. "Hopefully, it's minor."
Lupul has played with so much fire in his return from a broken forearm seven games ago, and the Maple Leafs have been much better with him in the lineup. They have gone 6-2-2 with him, including their loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday. He has checked in with an impressive eight goals and 13 points this season.
But Lupul hasn't had much luck in the injury department. He has missed 154 games because of various ailments in the past six seasons.
2007-08 - Out 14 games with a concussion, 12 more games with a right ankle sprain.
2008-09 - Lupul was healthy.
2009-10 - Missed 59 games because of back surgery.
2010-11 - Out 28 more due to more recovery from back surgery.
2011-12 - Missed final 16 games with shoulder separation.
2012-13 - Out for 25 games with a broken forearm.
Did Lupul's removal from the game take wind out the Maple Leafs sails on Wednesday? They weren't very good in the second period. But neither the players nor Carlyle thought the Lupul injury was a factor.
"We didn't have any wind to begin with," said Carlyle, whose team was coming off a four-day break.
Carlyle was right. The Maple Leafs were sloppy in their own end all game. Giveaways from Carl Gunnarsson and Nikolai Kulemin led to Philadelphia goals.
With or without Lupul, the Maple Leaf were taught a hard lesson against the Flyers. There are plenty of desperate hockey teams out there that still have hope for a playoff spot. For example, the Flyers won their fourth in a row to move within two points of the eighth-place New York Rangers in the East standings.
In the final three-plus weeks of the NHL season, the sixth-place Maple Leafs have teams on their docket that need wins to stay alive, teams like the New Jersey Devils, Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning.
"It's something we're gong to have to deal with, playing against desperate teams down the stretch," Liles said.
"We weren't as good as we needed to be, not just in the second period, but the first, too."
Tim WharnsbyTim's worked the sports beat at The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun, specializing in Canada's one true sporting obsession - hockey. He knows the players, the coaches, the backroom boys and most importantly, the fans. That's what he brings to his stories. Knowledge, fairness and understanding are trademarks of a Wharnsby story. That's what you will get here as he writes for CBCSports.ca.
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