Belfour wants to play -- a lot

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Ed Belfour says it's up to Pat Quinn whether he continues to get the bulk of the work in the Maple Leafs net, but the 40-year-old has no interest in seeing his load reduced.

"It's a coaching decision, and if Pat comes to me and we talk about it and we decide it is the right thing to do, we will do it," Belfour said yesterday when asked whether he would need extra rest in the coming months. "I have never had to do it in the past and I don't feel I have to do it now."

Back on the ice for practice yesterday at Lakeshore Lions Arena after missing Monday's game against Anaheim with a groin problem, Belfour did all but give an iron-clad guarantee he will be in net tomorrow night in Ottawa against the Senators.

"Hopefully, everything will go good (today) and Pat will give me the opportunity," Belfour said. "We did breakaways at the end (of practice) and for a groin, that puts a lot of stress on it. It was a good test. It felt good."

Quinn wouldn't mind giving Mikael Tellqvist more starts, so it's going to be intriguing to see what Belfour has to say if he sits more often. Belfour, meanwhile, has failed in four attempts to pass Terry Sawchuk for second place on the NHL's career win list. Both have 447 victories, but Belfour said the milestone is not weighing on him.

"I hoped I would have gotten it already, and it's another win, but a big win, of course," Belfour said. "We have not had our best (against Ottawa)and I have not had my best against them. Hopefully, we can come out flying."

Even if Belfour does return in the nation's capital, the Leafs will go with a somewhat depleted lineup. Of the group of players who have been nursing injuries this week, don't expect to see Eric Lindros (wrist) or Nik Antropov (knee). Quinn said they are doubtful, while the shoulder trouble that forced Tie Domi off the ice early yesterday also might keep him out tomorrow.

Jason Allison and Darcy Tucker did not practise yesterday to rest various ailments, but both should be in the lineup in Ottawa. Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo was absent because of the flu. Staffan Kronwall (knee) is expected to be cleared to return and Quinn said he would not put either young defenceman in the press box, so one likely will be returned to the Toronto Marlies.

No games have transpired between the Leafs and Senators since the 8-0 shellacking of Toronto by Ottawa at the ACC on Oct. 29. The Leafs are 0-3 against the Senators this season, but continue to use their provincial rivals as a barometer for success.

"It's the biggest game of the year for us," captain Mats Sundin said. "We're trying to prove ourselves in our conference and our division, and we are playing a team that arguably has been the hottest team on our side since the start of the season. It's a great test for us, going into their building, to see where we stand."


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