The Toronto Maple Leafs have been able to exploit ailing teams – Columbus with injuries, Buffalo with just being a general mess – in their last two wins. Now they’re the ones who will need to deal with a more vulnerable lineup, thanks in large part to Joffrey Lupul’s latest bit of bad luck.
Toronto assigned fairly promising rookie defenseman Stuart Percy back to the AHL in exchange for forward Sam Carrick.
Lupul’s loss presents something of a domino effect for the Maple Leafs. TSN’s Jonas Siegel wonders if Peter Holland will get bumped up a line while Mike Santorelli may move to the wing to make room for Carrick.
Siegel’s far more interesting observation comes when he calls for James van Riemsdyk to show that he can produce now that he’s split up from Phil Kessel. Head coach Randy Carlyle seems convinced that the 25-year-old can handle the challenge:
“I know that James has played to a higher level and he can continue to grow as a hockey player,” Carlyle said on Friday. “He’s done very, very well in the situations that we’ve put him in.”
Fun aside: tonight marks the first time he’ll face his brother Trevor van Riemdsyk, so it’s JVR vs. TVR on Saturday.
Considering the fact that the Chicago Blackhawks are tonight’s opponent, it’s likely to be a tough situation for Toronto. Then again, you can learn a lot about a player and a team in challenging situations like these.