Obviously, the biggest story of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ early season success is the league leading production of Phil Kessel, who upped his total to 20 points tonight. Kessel isn’t the only oft-criticized “one dimensional” resurgent right-handed winger (catches breath) in Toronto, though. His frequent linemate (and hasty Halloween costume designer) Joffrey Lupul is on quite the tear in his own right.
Lupul scored a hat trick in Toronto’s 5-3 win against the New Jersey Devils to move his points total to 14, including eight tallies. He’s just four points away from tying the 18 he produced in the 29 games he played after being traded.
For a while, it seemed like Lupul’s hockey gravestone would read “Guy who kept being the consolation prize in trades.” That was especially true with Chris Pronger; Lupul was involved in two trades for the elbow-throwing All-Star defenseman: once in 2006 and then in 2009.
He’s never bested the 53 points he scored in his second season with his first team, the (then Mighty) Anaheim Ducks, but maybe some of that has to do with the perennial uproar Lupul dealt with? He’s played on four different teams and made two tours of duty with the Ducks in his eight NHL seasons.
The law of averages says that he won’t continue to shoot at 21.6 percent, much like Kessel won’t maintain his 23.8 rate. Still, it’s quite possible that both can maintain at least some of their momentum and help their team continue to “outscore their problems.”
Lupul might even find a semi-permanent home in Toronto in the process.
Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.
For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.
So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.
Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.
As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:
The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.
Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.
As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.
It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:
We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.
The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.
Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?
It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.
You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.
Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.
The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.
Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:
When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:
Maybe it’s just a minor setback?
Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.