The odd saga of Joffrey Lupul's concussion is nearing its end.
But not before Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle added a little more confusion to the situation.
"Lupul will be a decision we'll make this afternoon," Carlyle said."He will be available to our hockey club. He was cleared for contact.
Obviously you saw him skate through the course of the week.
"The decision will be whether he feels he is 110 per cent. If he's only 100, he won't play. So we're going to wait and make sure."
Lupul declined to speak with the media on Monday in advanced of the Leafs matchup with the New Jersey Devils, but on Sunday, he had indicated he felt good and was close to being ready.
Lupul has missed only four games after suffering a head injury April 4 against the Philadelphia Flyers on a play that has received a lot of attention ever since. He took a big hit in the corner from Jay Rosehill and Adam Hall and then struggled to find the Leafs bench, leaving the game with what the organization would only call an upper-body injury for about a week afterward.
Eventually they relented and acknowledged it was a concussion.
The hit was a continued run of bad luck for a player who had already missed 25 games with a broken arm and two with a suspension, and even if he plays, Monday's game would be only his 11th of the 42 Toronto has played this season.
That follows a season-ending surgery that kept him out of the final 16 games of last season and a long history of devastating injuries such as a severe spinal infection that at one point threatened his career a few years ago.
Making sure Lupul is healthy for the postseason seems like a smart call at this point given how safe the Leafs are in the standings, but Carlyle said that didn't factor into the organization's decision.
"I don't think that has anything to do with it," he said. "It's when the player tells us he's 110 per cent. He's had his fair share of obstacles… we just want to make sure we're guarding ourselves on the side of caution."
Consider it unlikely Lupul joins the lineup, in other words, until later this week.
- The Devils are a good team that's in the mindset of a season-killing stretch right now. They've lost nine in a row and are 6-14-7 in their last 27 games after a very strong start. Martin Brodeur is likely to get the start, and he's been part of the problem, posting an .895 save percentage in March and .875 so far in April.
- Carlyle on the Devils, who are six points out of eighth and will likely approach this as a must-win game: "You know the type of game they're going to play. They're going to smother you with a checking style… They've got some skill and size up front and they're a hard team to play against. They went to the Stanley Cup final… They're not going to throw it in. We know that."
- One thing to watch with New Jersey is they're a dominant puck possession team, sitting third in the league right now behind only Los Angeles and Chicago. Toronto is on the other end of that number so expect the Devils to often have the puck and be ahead on the shot clock even if they're missing Ilya Kovalchuk these days.
- It was an optional skate for the Leafs so tough to make many assumptions on the lineup. One player who wasn't present was James Reimer, which generally means he will be getting the start. If that's the case, expect Ben Scrivens to draw in Tuesday in Washington.