The more Andrew Raycroft thought about returning to the Maple Leafs crease tomorrow night in Boston, the dumber the idea became.
"It makes absolutely no sense," Raycroft said after going for a brief skate by himself yesterday. "Even if I made it through the game, it's not worth having it tweak a little and then you're fighting an uphill battle all year and it's only November. It's a long way to go if you have a little nagging groin injury for the next six or seven months."
The Leafs' No. 1 goaltender suffered a mild groin strain in his left leg last Thursday in his first game in Boston since he was acquired from the Bruins in June. Though he has been on skates a couple of times since, Raycroft has not participated in a full practice.
Jean-Sebastien Aubin, who relieved Raycroft in Beantown last week and was sharp in a win against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, will make his second consecutive start. It's probable Mikael Tellqvist, who reiterated he is more than ready to return from a broken finger, will back up Aubin. The Leafs, who have not placed Raycroft on injured reserve, would not have to make a roster move to accommodate Tellqvist's return.
Raycroft said there is "not much" pain in his groin and it's a matter of getting his strength back. Even if he had declared himself set to go, he would not have been in goal tomorrow night, coach Paul Maurice said.
"We don't want any questions about groins with our goaltenders," Maurice said. "We are going to leave him until the coach not only sees that he is healthy, but he has had enough practice days that he is strong."
Raycroft tentatively has circled a home game against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night as a possibility to return. But don't be surprised if he passes on that one as well, especially if Aubin has another good outing tomorrow night.
Aubin will be ready for any situation that arises.
"It's game to game and you don't know what is going to happen," Aubin said. "The only thing you can prepare for is being prepared and rested and hope for the best."