By Allan Muir
Good thing the Maple Leafs know how to play without Joffrey Lupul. They could be doing a bit more of it very soon.
Lupul, who just returned to action Saturday after missing the last two months of the season with a broken arm, is all but certain to be suspended after a flagrant elbow to the noggin of Tampa defender Victor Hedman Wednesday night.
This head shot was so blatant it's sure to end up on the league's how-not-to video compilation.
Was the hit late? Check.
Was the head the principal point of contact? Check.
Did his skates leave the ice prior to the hit? Oh yeah, they do.
The only mitigating factor in Lupul's defense is that Hedman, though clearly dazed in the aftermath, was able to return to action later in the period. Hopefully he won't have any late-onset symptoms in the next 24 hours.
As for Lupul, well, the timing couldn't have been worse. He was brilliant in his return on Saturday, netting a pair of goals against the Jets, and scored the opening tally in Toronto's 4-2 win over the Bolts tonight. He was clearly feeling it after that lengthy layoff. Now he's likely to be out for 2-3 games, which would include a critical home-and-home duet with the Boston Bruins.
And speaking of bad timing: It's probably best not to knock the block off an opponent when Gary Bettman, Colin Campbell
and half of the NHL's heirarchy are in the building.