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Wilson splits up All-Stars Kessel and Lupul: “We’ve got to keep more pucks out of our net”

Jan 19, 2012, 10:22 AM EDT

Kessel Lupul

With his team 4-5-1 over its last 10 and three points back of the  final playoff spot in the East, Toronto head coach Ron Wilson sent a message yesterday, breaking up the All-Star duo of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

“We’re looking for overall balance,” Wilson told the Globe and Mail. “Balance between offence and defence. We’ve got to keep more pucks out of our net – not make silly mistakes that result in a goal against.”

While it’s unclear what silly mistakes Wilson is referring to, there’s no shortage of candidates. The most recent ones came during Toronto’s 3-2 loss to Ottawa where the Kessel-Lupul-Tyler Bozak line was on the hook for the Senators’ first two goals — but there have been plenty of other miscues over the last few weeks as Kessel and Lupul went a combined minus-10 over three straight Leafs losses.

“Some lines have been getting scored on way too much in the last 10 or 15 games,” Wilson said (without directly naming names). “At least for a period, we’ll see if something like [shuffling the lineup] helps us.”

The break-up may have hit Kessel and Lupul hard, as they both declined to speak with reporters following Wednesday’s practice. The two have played nearly 90 percent of their even-strength time together this year, Lupul has been on the ice for all but four of Kessel’s 49 points and both are headed to the All-Star game based largely on the chemistry they’ve developed this season.

According to the Globe, Toronto’s new-look top two lines for Thursday’s game against Minnesota will be:

Matt Lombardi-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel

Joffrey Lupul-Tim ConnollyNazem Kadri

  1. drewsylvania - Jan 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Seguin is already a better checker than Kessel.

    • elguapo12 - Jan 19, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      Yup. And Seguin is only 9 point behind him and is +35…not a liability.

      Kessel gave no interviews yesterday after being split up from his BFF Lupul. Look for him to tank a few games to prove that he’s right about which line he should be on. He’s becoming more and more like Heatley every day.

      • drewsylvania - Jan 19, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        Don’t know much about Heatley’s attitude, but in Boston Kessel was a complainer who was useless on anything but offense. Heatley’s the same?

  2. elguapo12 - Jan 19, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Pretty much exactly. Was taken off the first PP unit in Ottawa and promptly demanded a trade. SJ obviously didn’t care much for him either…

    • drewsylvania - Jan 19, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      Awesome. We’d be laughing more here in Boston if it weren’t for the Kaberle trade (bleah).

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1836)
  2. P. Kane (1303)
  3. P. Datsyuk (1282)
  4. M. Richards (1138)
  5. M. Giordano (1121)