Coach Randy Carlyle called Lupul's status "questionable" after the winger missed the morning skate at Nationwide Arena the day after taking a shot to his right foot in practice but cast doubt on Lupul playing unless he had a "speedy recovery."
Lupul's problem is more a weight-bearing one than being able to get his foot into his skate, according to Carlyle. Josh Leivo, recalled from the AHL's Toronto Marlies, replaced Lupul in the lineup Friday night.
Carlyle expressed some displeasure Thursday about his players not wearing shot-blockers to protect their feet in practice.
"(The message) was just about common sense, guys," he said. "You don't drive your car anymore without a seat belt. It's basically the same principle."
Right-winger David Clarkson will make his Leafs debut after serving a 10-game suspension.
"It's exciting to be back and a part of something," Clarkson said earlier Friday. "I'll know more after the game but it's definitely exciting to be back and be back at it again and a part of the locker-room. Just the little things you miss not being around the guys."
Carlyle and his staff cautioned Clarkson not to try to do too much in his Leafs debut.
"We're not asking him to do anything other than just play a game, play a solid game," he said. "Be an up-and-down winger, bang and crash when he has the opportunity, go to the net. It's not going to be any different than what we're going to ask him 10 games from now."
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier gets the start. He went 2-1 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in his career against the Blue Jackets while playing for the Los Angeles Kings.
Toronto activated enforcer Frazer McLaren from injured reserve Friday after he missed the first 10 games with a broken right pinky finger.
Blue Jackets tough guy Jared Boll missed the morning skate with a stomach illness, but he was in the lineup. Reigning Vezina Trophy-winner Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start in goal for Columbus.