TORONTO -- Joffrey Lupul's roller-coaster season continues.
The veteran left wing of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been one of the NHL's hottest players of late, but he has a hard time staying in the lineup. Lupul missed 25 games with a broken arm after he was hit with a slap shot by teammate Dion Phaneuf on Jan. 23. Then, after scoring three goals and four points in his first two games back, Lupul was hit with a two-game suspension for a high hit.
In the four games since his suspension ended, Lupul added five goals and nine points, but he was injured again Thursday night when he was sandwiched on a hit by Adam Hall and Jay Rosehill of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Lupul, who had an assist on Toronto's first goal, was hit first by Hall and knocked into Rosehill, who inadvertently hit his former teammate in the head. Lupul departed after taking three shifts, looking quite wobbly as he headed to the bench, and the Maple Leafs lost 5-3 to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.
The loss snapped a streak of eight straight games the Maple Leafs had secured at least one point.
"You always take caution with those situations," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said when asked why Lupul did not return to the game. "He feels fine now, but that's what happens within the context of the game. We'll have a much better read on it [Friday]. If we were to say he's probably going to practice tomorrow, I'd say he's 50-50 on practicing."
Carlyle, who was quite perturbed with his team's effort, was then asked if losing Lupul took the wind out of the rest of the team's sails.
"I didn't think we had any wind to start with," the coach responded. "So I don't see how it could take any out. We didn't play desperate enough and we didn't execute to a high enough level. We were like a step behind. Our execution was a step behind."
It was also a night when Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer was hoping to make a statement having been anointed the team's No. 1 stopper by virtue of the fact Toronto failed to acquire a veteran at the NHL Trade Deadline. Though Carlyle didn't point the finger directly at Reimer, he wasn't thrilled with his performance.
"I think he just fit in with the rest of the team," Carlyle said. "We weren't as sharp as we needed to be to have success. You score three goals in the NHL, you should win."
Reimer, asked to assess his performance, said, "It was a weird one. I felt like I was hanging in there and making some big saves, but goals kept going in. I had a few unlucky bounces."
Reimer said losing Lupul was important, but added the Maple Leafs survived when he was out for 25 games, and if he is out for an extended period of time, they'll have to make due again. Reimer said he feels bad for the hard-luck forward.
"If it's a couple of games or a couple of weeks we've got to step up, and we have the guys who can step in and get the job done," Reimer said. "Things just aren't going his way. He's an excellent athlete and a real professional. He takes care of himself, eats well, works out hard and does whatever he needs to do to make sure he's as healthy as possible. He's one of the hardest working guys on our team. You think he'd be the least likely guy to get hurt."
The Flyers did acquire a goalie at the trade deadline, bringing in Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but elected to start veteran Ilya Bryzgalov who, though not particularly sharp himself, did manage to secure his 17th win of the season.
The Flyers, winners of four in a row, have 37 points, two behind the eighth-place New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Toronto dropped into sixth; the Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators each have 44 points but Ottawa has a game in hand.
Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn said he hopes his team hasn't left it until too late to make a serious charge to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"It's obviously really tough to make up points at this stage of the season, but guys are doing a good job of bring it every night," Schenn said. "I think guys are starting to play with a little more confidence. We're finding ways to win and hopefully we can continue with that and not get too far ahead of ourselves."
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