Ponikarovsky won't be rushed

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Asked if he ever has seen a team so ravaged by a series of injuries, Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson offered up a simple one-word response yesterday.

"No," he replied in an e-mail last night.

And it doesn't appear the cavalry is poised to ride in and save the day any time soon, either.

Having separated his left shoulder three weeks ago, forward Alexei Ponikarovsky will not be in the lineup against the Buffalo Sabres tonight at the HSBC Arena. The Leafs also will be missing Michael Peca (knee), Darcy Tucker (foot), Nik Antropov (ankle), Aleksander Suglobov (back), Kyle Wellwood (hip/groin) and defenceman Ian White (shoulder).

"Pony will not play," coach Paul Maurice announced after practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena."Other than that, we're just shooting for down the road here.

" I think we're into the last week before the all-star break (Jan. 23-25) before we begin to see some movement. I think Antropov is a possibility. When he feels comfortable he can play.

"We have clearance on a couple of guys, but until you feel strong enough that you can play it's not worth it. Pony didn't feel strong out there so we are going to hold him back."

Ponikarovsky has been practising with the team for the past week.

"I'm just anxious to get back in there, but I don't want a setback either," he said.

Tucker, meanwhile, continues to nurse a swollen left foot that will not fit into his skate boot, hindering him from even going for a leisurely skate.

"When you have a problem like this, there's not much you can do but wait," he said. "I played on it and it swelled up so bad, we've just got to wait until I can skate again without any help."

GREEN DAY

Tucker and Travis Green were close during Green's previous stint with the Leafs.

So it should come as no surprise that Tucker welcomed the addition of the veteran forward, who was picked up on waivers yesterday from Anaheim.

"He's a competitive guy who is great on faceoffs and does a great job on penalty killing," Tucker said of Green.


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