Sundin good 2 go?

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:10 PM ET


 Hello Mats, goodbye Joe?

 That scenario stands a great chance of becoming reality for the Maple Leafs tonight as they venture back into the Wachovia Center for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-final against the Philadelphia Flyers.

 Captain Mats Sundin, who has missed the past four games with a leg injury, skated like a healthy man in practice yesterday and will decide after the morning skate whether he plays tonight. He sounded optimistic and denied a report that he likely would not play "at all" in the second round.

 The news is not good regarding centre Joe Nieuwendyk, whose back problems apparently flared up during the Leafs' 3-1 loss in Game 1 on Thursday.

 Coach Pat Quinn said Nieuwendyk, who did not practise yesterday, would "probably not" play tonight. Nieuwendyk missed Game 4 against the Ottawa Senators with back woes and is day to day, but Quinn would not confirm suspicions that Nieuwendyk's back is the culprit again.

 Sundin is a different story. During skating drills he appeared to push off and stop without a problem.

 "All I know is I felt pretty good (yesterday)," Sundin said, chuckling at the report that wrote him off. "The way it feels right now, I will be back in this series for sure. There has been a huge improvement in the past three or four days.

 "Absolutely I wouldn't rule out (playing tonight). I'm going to try to have a really good skate in (this morning) and see how it feels."

 Sundin practised on a line with Darcy Tucker and Tie Domi as Quinn, who gave the players a day off on Friday, used some new combinations. Mikael Renberg also missed practice to rest his bothersome hamstring and Owen Nolan, who is recovering from a knee injury but is expected back against Philadelphia at some point, practised but not with a set line.

 In Nieuwendyk's place on a line with Nik Antropov and Alex Ponikarovsky was Wade Belak; Ron Francis remained between Gary Roberts and Alex Mogilny; Robert Reichel was between Chad Kilger and Nathan Perrott; and rookie Matt Stajan skated with Tom Fitzgerald and Clarke Wilm.

 Quinn stressed, though, that he did not know how his lineup would look tonight. Three will sit out.

 "We still have to follow the principles of our team play regardless of who is in certain spots," Quinn said. "The players that are coming in are not going to be the same quality (as those who are out). You have to encourage them to do what they do well."

 Nieuwendyk, who leads the Leafs with five playoff points -- all goals -- played through pain in Game 1.

 "He shouldn't have been playing," Quinn said. "You could see his play was not where it needed to be. Eventually he had to pull himself out."


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