Eddie says he's ready

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

Ed Belfour is working in new pads, catcher and blocker in anticipation of a busy spring.

How much duty the Maple Leafs' top goaltender gets in the crucial 25 remaining games is anyone's guess, but with backup Mikael Tellqvist seeing only sporadic action for Team Sweden in Turin, expect the No. 1 to get his due.

If the Leafs are somehow alive and in playoff mode on April 21 -- Belfour's 41st birthday -- it will be in large part down to their mesh Methuselah.

"I feel good and I'll do whatever (coach Pat Quinn decides)," Belfour said yesterday as the non-Olympic Leafs prepare for Tuesday's first post-break game here against the Washington Capitals. "Pat and I communicate a lot on (workload)."

In his first two seasons as a Leaf with a playoff spot nailed down, Belfour played 15 and 18 of Toronto's final 25 games, with a combined record of 21-9-3.

Quinn was leaning toward a more equitable split in games between Belfour and Tellqvist prior to the Olympics, but a rested Belfour should be good to play the first three, including back-to-back against Buffalo and Ottawa next weekend.

If Belfour can get hot, there will be little room for days off, with the Leafs needing 16 wins to guarantee the 90-plus points for playoff contention.

"Hopefully, I can stay 100% healthy and that's the key to playing a lot of games," Belfour said.

As Belfour was able to use the break to recover, so did rookie winger Alex Steen. Unlike the other youngsters on the Leafs, the Swede has not been through the rigours of an eight-month junior or minor pro schedule.

He took some wise advice from his father Thomas, who played 14 years in the National Hockey League for the Winnipeg Jets, including the days of the 84-game schedule.

"He shared some of his experiences with me," Alex said. "He knows how hard it was in his first year and I learn from his mistakes. I knew how much hard work was ahead of me this year. I started almost in March and there was a lot of summer for me to get in shape.

"This break is a good thing for me in my first year. It has helped me to focus, recharge my batteries and make sure my body is in shape again."

A concussed Carlo Colaiacovo was at Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday with the rest of the players but remains restricted in his off-ice workouts, still awaiting clearance by doctors.

"I'll know more on Monday," the defenceman said.

But multi-concussion survivor Eric Lindros, whose own workout was cut short yesterday because his custom left wrist brace was not at the rink, figures the kid is making progress.

"Carlo will be back playing," Lindros said.

"You can tell by his (skin) colour and the way he's moving around. He's at the rink quite often and is making strides."


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