McCabe may earn red leaf

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Every goal Bryan McCabe scores makes it easier for Pat Quinn to recommend him for duty on Team Canada's defence in February in Turin.

But Quinn, who doubles as both Leafs and Team Canada Olympic coach, is only one voice, on a selection committee led by Wayne Gretzky, Hockey Canada executives and four National Hockey League general managers and coaches.

"Bryan is on our list (at large) and he's been on it all the way back four years ago," Quinn said of those not picked for Salt Lake City. "The selections will be made by a lot of people. It will be hard not to include him in that group (of 23 finalists). But they will watch him all the way to Dec. 22 and the final call will be made then."

McCabe is not going to let Team Canada talk become a distraction, after he got his hopes up in 2002 and for the 2004 World Cup.

"I worried about that stuff for six or seven years," he said. "Whatever happens happens. I have one job right now and that's with the Leafs."

A.K. OKAY WITH BELFOUR

Alexander Khavanov attended a block party on Tuesday night, in fact he led the club's 21 shot blocks with seven against the New York Rangers.

A tradition of Russian-born Toronto defencemen with a knack for stopping pucks was established a few years ago by Dmitry Yushkevich. But all Leaf blueliners are absorbing more pain with the increase in penalties/power plays this season.

"It's one more the person the puck has to go through to get to the net," Khavanov said of the tactic. "And even if you put it through me, then Eddie Belfour is there to stop it.

"If you can't block it, get out of the way (and don't screen)," Khavanov said. "Otherwise you don't know where the rebound is going to go."

LOOSE LEAFS

Tuesday's win over the Rangers marked the first time the Leafs have allowed under 30 opposition shots in 14 games, giving up just 28. But the lighter workload didn't mean the 40-year-old Belfour wasn't granted a day off yesterday at practice ... The Leafs have won back-to-back games without captain Mats Sundin getting a point. That only happened once in 2003-04.


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