Leafs feeling no pain

Wade Belak gets the lumber up on Leafs teammate Bryan McCabe during yesterday's practice as the...

Wade Belak gets the lumber up on Leafs teammate Bryan McCabe during yesterday's practice as the team prepares to face the Buffalo Sabres tonight. (Toronto Sun/Craig Robertson)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:53 PM ET

The Maple Leafs will accomplish a feat tonight in Buffalo no matter how they fare in an arena that has provided nightmares for most of their visits.

For the first time this season, coach Pat Quinn will have a full roster of 23 healthy players.

"There is good and bad to it," Quinn said. "You have to start sitting out guys who want to play, and that is never the best thing to have happen. But on the other hand, you have the ability to change your lineup around, and we feel it can be a pretty good lineup."

The Leafs' injury situation solved itself yesterday when defenceman Aki Berg, who had a sprained knee, and forward Mariusz Czerkawski, nursing a sore shoulder, were cleared to play.

Berg will be in the lineup tonight, but Czerkawski likely will ride the pine along with Wade Belak and Clarke Wilm.

There has been some bellyaching about the sending of Carlo Colaiacovo to the Toronto Marlies after a strong performance and his first NHL goal against the Washington Capitals Tuesday, but he would have been sent down anyway given Berg's quick recovery.

Earlier this week, Quinn did not figure on getting Berg back until after road games tonight against the Sabres and tomorrow night versus the Montreal Canadiens.

Colaiacovo's demotion indicates the Leafs' confidence in fellow rookie Staffan Kronwall, who has appeared in the past six games and has not looked out of place, is high.

"I don't know what they are thinking, and if I go around thinking about what they are thinking, I would go crazy," the 6-foot-3, 209-pound Swede said.

"Everything is as good as it can be. I'm comfortable out there and the guys have treated me great."

The lines Quinn used in a 6-4 win against the Caps were intact at practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena after the players were given Wednesday off.

That means Jason Allison, usually a centre, probably will skate on Kyle Wellwood's right side again tonight.

Ed Belfour gets the start in the sold-out match.

Though the atmosphere at the HSBC Arena always is electric when the Leafs visit, thanks to a large influx of fans clad in blue-and-white garb, the Leafs have not had much fun there.

Since the building opened in 1996, the Leafs are 4-13-3 at the rink, and since the Sabres entered the NHL in 1970, Toronto is 20-43-6 in Buffalo.

But the Leafs won their past two games in Buffalo, in March and April of 2004.

"We played well there at the end of the last season and hopefully we can do it again," winger Darcy Tucker said.

"They've always played us hard there and we have to be ready."

Quinn acknowledged he's not sure what it is about playing in upper-state New York that has burned the Leafs in the past.

"Some used to say it was Punch (Imlach's) jinx," Quinn said.

"Since I have been around, boy, they have competed hard against us. We would like to change it and that is our intention starting (tonight)."


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