While injured defenceman Tomas Kaberle attempts to shake the cobwebs from his head, his three young understudies understand it is time to step up.
Less than 48 hours after being cheap-shotted by the New Jersey Devils' Cam Janssen, Kaberle -- still a bit groggy according to his handlers -- underwent more tests yesterday.
"There was nothing unexpected from (the examinations)," general manager JohnFerguson relayed in an e-mail last night. "There will be more assessment (today)."
In town visiting with Tomas, Kaberle's parents have postponed their return flight to the Czech Republic until Thursday in order to tend to their son.
Kaberle will be out of the lineup at least a week -- probably longer -- after suffering a concussion, back spasms and neck pains from the blind-side blow delivered by Janssen, who was suspended three games for his actions by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.
In the meantime, it will be up to rookies Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and Andy Wozniewski to pick up the slack on the blue line.
Toronto's three amigos will find themselves with hefty chunks of ice time in the upcoming week, especially with another regular defenceman, Pavel Kubina, still having difficulty grasping the stick because of a fractured finger.
With Leaf Czech mates Kaberle and Kubina out of the lineup, White and Co., understand they will be receiving increased roles heading into games tomorrow against the Washington Capitals, Thursday in Ottawa against the Senators, then back in Toronto on Saturday for a return date against Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and their friends.
"If you look at the guys we have out of the lineup right now, it's up to guys like Ian, Andy and I to help carry the team," Colaiacovo said. "We've had some adversity, sure, but we feel confident we can handle it."
Due to the blue line injuries, White and Colaiacovo should continue to receive more point time on a struggling Leaf power play that went 0-for-6 in the 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday and now finds itself 15th in the league at 18.1%.
"It's an opportunity for us and we have to take advantage of it,"White said. "It's time to step up."
The Leafs did receive an influx of adrenalin with the return of Darcy Tucker to the lineup Saturday after a two-month absence with small fissure cracks in his foot.
Tucker's presence wasn't enough to keep Toronto from coming up short against the Sabres, but they easily are a better team with him than without him.
They'll get another boost when forward Kyle Wellwood, who is coming off sports hernia surgery, joins his teammates for the morning skate tomorrow, kicking off what he hopes is a series of full practices.