Kyle Wellwood can't help but wonder if his season slowly is going down the tubes.
The Maple Leafs centre has been out since Dec. 19 with a groin strain and there is no timetable for him to return to the lineup.
"It's my first injury in hockey pretty much and it's really hard, because I am so used to playing hockey in the winter," Wellwood said.
Wellwood missed one game with the Leafs last season and played in 80 games with the St. John's Maple Leafs in 2004-05.
The question now is whether Wellwood will require surgery. If he does, that could spell the end of 2006-07 for him.
"All the reports we get from our medical staff is it does not appear, based on the symptoms and the physical manipulation and some of our testing, that he's at a place where he's a surgical candidate," general manager John Ferguson said. "That being said, we've all been around this sport long enough to understand the potential surgery, referred to as a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it typically doesn't show up in an MRI and everything else had to be excluded before they go down that road.
"So that's what we're going off now, that it's, more likely than not, treatable with rest and rehab."
In other words, it is not yet known whether Wellwood will have to go under the knife.
Two talented Tampa Bay Lightning players -- Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier -- are enjoying good times.
St. Louis has an 11-game scoring streak, in which he has six goals and 10 assists; Lecavalier has a seven-game streak, in which he has seven goals and six assists.
"Taking away their time and space are the standard answers," Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "We want to force them to do things faster than they want to, the problem being they are good enough to get those passes off. We'll try to find out early in the game which one of our defencemen are really going and have them match up."