Pohl cautious with tight back

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

John Pohl admits he hardly could walk on Friday, let alone skate.

And while his pesky back spasms have improved since then, the Maple Leafs forward isn't out of the woods yet.

Having missed the past two games, Pohl's leisurely skate at the Air Canada Centre yesterday lasted just three minutes before tightness in his back forced him to call it a day.

He'll test the back again at the morning skate today before a decision is made regarding his availability for the Leafs' game against the visiting New York Islanders tonight.

DON'T BE STUPID

"I'm planning on playing but we'll have to see how it goes," Pohl said. "It's still a little tight and I don't want to be stupid.

"(Sitting out) sucks, especially when there is nothing you can do."

With forwards Michael Peca, Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood and Kris Newbury also nursing injuries, coach Paul Maurice last week inserted Chad Kilger into Pohl's spot at centre between Boyd Devereaux and Bates Battaglia.

For Kilger and Devereaux, it has been a reunion of sorts. Seven years ago, Kilger and Devereaux sat beside each other in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room and often played on the same line.

Obviously everything old is new again.

Kilger and Devereaux are both first-round draft picks who never have blossomed into the stars many had predicted. In fact, both have been forced to battle just to stay at the NHL level, assuming many roles on different teams along the way in order to keep their respective hockey dreams alive.

"We can both play centre and we can both play the wing," Kilger said, noting the similarities between the two players. "Obviously we've both matured and have grown a lot. And we both understand that we can contribute in many different ways."

According to Devereaux, the composition of Kilger's game has not changed much.

"He's still flying around hitting whatever he can," Devereaux said with a chuckle.


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