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Looking for a spark

by David Alter / Toronto Maple Leafs

It was a difficult Wednesday night for Joffrey Lupul.

A mistake on Buffalo’s opening goal meant a decrease in ice time for Lupul, playing just 13:09.

Lupul has had his fair share of injuries, but certainly distractions have reached a maximum. Regardless, the professional in him is what will keep him going through this tough time.

“Probably just a bit of everything, I’m not very comfortable right now,” said Lupul following Thursday’s practice.

His skating isn’t where it has been earlier in the season. Interim coach Peter Horachek acknowledged a month ago that Lupul was still recovering from a lingering lower body injury and Lupul has said that his skating isn’t at his peak level.

Lupul has gone 12 games without registering a point. During that stretch, he sat out 11 days with a nagging lower body injury.

To put things into perspective, his previous maximum stretch without registering points was seven games, which happened as a rookie in 2003-04.

As is typically the case, a different perspective with Lupul and some experimentation was part of the coach’s plan.

“He’s just got to simplify it,” said Horachek of Lupul. “He’s a pro and he sees things different than the way I see it. We talk, we go through it and he’s going to get the opportunity to go back out there and work through it.”

Motivation could have easily lacked. Both Toronto and Buffalo are at the bottom of the NHL standings.

“It’s different, that was bad, that was really bad last night,” Lupul said of Wednesday’s game. “Obviously we’re happy to get the win, but it was a bad atmosphere, it was a bad hockey game. We can both play better than that. We’re happy to get the two points but if we want to have success out west we have to play better than that.”

The Leafs begin a Western Canadian stretch against two very good teams in Calgary and Vancouver, and one struggling team in Edmonton.

Lupul, an Edmonton native, will get a few days in the city to catch up with family and friends.

In the meantime, Lupul continues to put the work in while looking for ways to get his game back on track.

T.J. Brennan

The defenceman was called up by the Maple Leafs on Thursday. It is expected that he will make his Leafs debut at some point during the road trip.

It’s been a long road for the New Jersey native who has bounced around different situations.

The 25-year-old has played 40 NHL games in his career.

David Booth

Getting an increased role since the trade deadline came and went, David Booth continues to put up points. An assist on Wednesday extended his point-streak to five games.

“He’s continually doing a good job, he’s so powerful,” said Horachek. “We talked to him about not taking as many penalties because he’s so strong in the offensive zone. But he’s creating a lot and taking pucks to the net.”

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