Belak or Marlie may have to fill gap

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Defenceman Alexander Khavanov escaped serious injury on Saturday night, but the Maple Leafs lineup could sport a very different look this evening against the Mighty Ducks.

Khavanov is listed as doubtful for the game with a badly bruised knee, but coach Pat Quinn does not believe Staffan Kronwall has had sufficient practice time since his sprained MCL improved to suit up. That leaves the possibility of a callup from the Marlies, or a switch in business cards for Wade Belak from right wing to blue line.

"There is no structural damage (to Khavanov, who was hurt on a shot block against Dallas), but he has a great big knot on the inside of his knee," Quinn said.

Belak found a grey defenceman's sweater hanging in his stall at the Air Canada Centre yesterday.

"Things are different every day here," Belak said with a laugh, having come out of the press box on Saturday against the Stars to play six minutes on right wing. "It'll be different with the new rules, but I think I can make the adjustment."

Quinn said he and general manager John Ferguson would also think about a callup from the Marlies. But Kronwall or Carlo Colaiacovo could be headed back there by mid-week, since there are no Leafs games and the team will have to be under the 23-man roster when Kronwall and Khavanov are healthy.

"If we still rank either one (Colaiacovo or Kronwall) as the seventh defenceman, we don't want them sitting in the stands. If one of the other guys were to drop down to seventh, then they'll certainly stay. But before we even talk about defence, we have the problem of 23 guys."

The Leafs are one man over that roster limit with everyone back. There is also just a week to go before the NHL holiday roster freeze goes into effect, halting trades, waiver pickups and demotions, but allowing callups.

Also missing from practice yesterday was Eric Lindros with what Quinn called "an upper body problem that the medical staff wanted him to rest." He is expected to play tonight.


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