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Maple Leafs 4 - Thrashers 3 (SO): I <3 Lupul

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A new dynamic duo?
A new dynamic duo?

I already wrote my peaen to Phil Kessel at LeafsNation so I won't bother you with anything beyond pointing out that he has points in 15 straight NHL games and that Ovechkin is a big dumb smelly head. However, the other half of the dynamic duo is looking pretty strong as well.

I won't lie. When Lupul came to Toronto last year in the Francois Beauchemin trade, my heart had been hardened by years of reading bitter Oilers fans carving up his play and explaining in excruciating detail why he only succeeded when all factors were stacked in his favour. Maybe that is what he will ultimately become but he had a pretty good run last year to end the season and after an off-season that saw him return in, by all accounts, phenomenal shape Lupul is off to a hot start on the best line in hockey.*

*5 games in.

2011 - Joffrey Lupul 5 4 3 7 7 6 2 0 0 1 18 22.2%

There were flashes on his chemistry with Kessel last year as he put up 9-9-18 and proved to be a little bit more than a salary dump. James Mirtle noted as much:

There were many pundits out there who saw Joffrey Lupul as merely an expensive salary dump (read: Chemmy) when he landed in Toronto in February, a high-priced player coming off a terrible injury who the Toronto Maple Leafs took on as a way to land prospect defenceman Jake Gardiner.

Twenty-five games into his tenure as a Leaf, however, Lupul has found a role, scoring eight goals and adding eight assists while playing on a line with Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak.

Of course, there is the obvious caveat that he's only been a Leaf for 33 games (and 25 points) but I guess that's the benefit of really low expectations. Plus, he really makes the Leafs a lot more handsome. They don't call him Zoolander for nothing. His two goals last night veered from the sublime to the hilarious but on the scoresheet they all count the same. His stats would also be much better if not for a few incredible robberies for which we have seen no goaltender apprehended despite plenty of witnesses.

His first goal was actually a good example of what he needs to do now that Kessel is incandescent: find open space, wait for a pass, don't screw up. They are getting gift-wrapped for him and he needs to stock up for the winter.

Lupul Cares Not For Your Camera

Game In Six