Renberg likely on long hiatus

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:53 PM ET


  As the Maple Leafs loaded their gear for Philadelphia, Mikael Renberg could pack nothing but faint hope.

 A "tweak" of his chronic hamstring injury at practice yesterday made a comeback in this series all the more remote and had the 32-year-old veteran winger pondering semi retirement, perhaps until Christmas of next year, in an effort to salvage his career.

 But the last man off the trainer's table yesterday won't give up on this season, in what could be his last shot at a Stanley Cup.

 "Right now it's needles, heat, cold, massage, stretching ... everything you can think of," Renberg said. "But I think the only thing to help this case is rest for a long time after the season. I could've played last night (Game 4), but I don't know about Game 5. I tweaked it a bit (yesterday) but I think (coach Pat Quinn) is not going to change the lineup anyway."

 Asked if he is at risk to further injury, Renberg said "the doctors say not (to play). But if this is my last chance to be even close to a Cup, even it means playing just one shift. As I say, I can rest after the season is over. I'll have to rest a couple of months and then maybe until Christmas. I'm 32, I want to play another three or four years, but only if I'm healthy. If I'm not, it's just a waste of time.

 "It has been a very frustrating season, this leg hasn't been 100% at any time. But I have to do my best, treat it and try and be in shape if he calls upon me. If he doesn't, I have to support the other guys.

 "It's hard, so hard. I've been together with these guys three years, but I have to be a good teammate and support them."

 The Leafs were in a confident mood heading to the airport last night, though they've managed just one goal in each of their previous five visits to the Wachovia Center and need a win this afternoon to break the Flyers' home-ice advantage.

 "We were checking well in there but we couldn't put any pucks in," Quinn said. "You can't win solely playing defence and that has been the difference (in winning Games 3 and 4 and tying the series 2-2). Our guys made some offensive transition and tried to take advantage of the chances provided."

 It's not official that the Leafs will have Joe Nieuwendyk back, as the injured centre will make a game-time decision on his back spasms.

 Quinn will have to decide whether to reinstate Nieuwendyk on the Sky Line with Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky, or leave Wade Belak there and remove a player such as Ron Francis or Clarke Wilm.

 The overall effort exhibited in the two Toronto games will make Quinn's decision a hard one.

 The Leafs put seven pucks past Flyers goalie Robert Esche in the past two games but, as mentioned, the Flyers are a different animal at home.

 BOARDS AND GLASS

 "We have to face it like it doesn't matter where we're playing,." winger Darcy Tucker said.

 "It's a sheet of ice with boards and glass just like any other rink in the league. We have to go in there and shut out all the other stuff that goes with playing in that rink.

 "The bottom line is win in Philadelphia to win the series. Look throughout the playoffs -- there are a lot of goals with funny bounces where guys have just gone to the net and the puck has gone in off of something."


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