Lineup a real pain

Maple Leafs head coach Pat Quinn is not going to risk rushing back injured players for his club's...

Maple Leafs head coach Pat Quinn is not going to risk rushing back injured players for his club's Western Canada road swing. (Toronto Sun File/Dave Abel)

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:39 PM ET

CALGARY -- No one gets back in the Maple Leafs lineup without a clean bill of health.

Jason Allison, Darcy Tucker and Carlo Colaiacovo all are clamouring to play this weekend, but with back-to-back games against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers in less than 24 hours, coach Pat Quinn is not going to risk a six-game winning streak by letting injured players punch their own ticket out of the infirmary.

"We have a couple of guys who say they want to play, but we'll leave it to our trainers to make that decision," Quinn said yesterday after practice.

"As long as we have healthy guys (to spare), you want to make sure those coming in are capable of playing at a good level and aren't just anxious to get back in for personal desire."

That said, Allison has made a remarkable recovery from shattering the tip of his left ring finger on Boxing Day in New Jersey. He insists he is comfortable stickhandling with a brace under his glove. But if he returns to centre, he would bump one of Kyle Wellwood, Clarke Wilm or John Pohl.

"I'll talk with trainers, doctors, coaches, but I'm looking to play," Allison said.

Tucker was back on the ice for the first time yesterday since aggravating a strained rib on Monday.

He was wearing the gaudy gold sweaters that mark injured Leafs for the benefit of teammates in contact drills, but the betting is he'll play. He has a legion of friends and family in town, including his uncle Lee's minor hockey team, who bussed four hours from Oyen, Alta., to join Tucker and the Leafs for a Hockey Day In Canada taped segment yesterday.

"You don't want to come back unless you can help," Tucker said. "There is a difference between playing injured and playing hurt, and you have to find the fine line between the two."

Tucker had been playing on the first line with Mats Sundin, until Monday's injury led Quinn to replace him with Alex Steen. Sundin and Steen set up Chad Kilger for two goals, but Tucker, with a team-high 17 goals, will likely be accommodated.

Such a move would see Wade Belak scratched.

"I don't know exactly what we'll have (tonight)," Quinn said of the lineup.

Colaiacovo has traded his gold jersey for the regular grey worn by Leafs defenceman, but his sprained right wrist will be checked again today.

Dressing Colaiacovo means pushing aside another youngster, Staffan Kronwall.

Forwards Eric Lindros (wrist ligament) and Nik Antropov (knee) have no set return dates.


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