Tucker clears the air

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

The media received some medial collateral ligament talk from Darcy Tucker yesterday.

Anxious to stamp out speculation that he has torn his right anterior cruciate ligament, more serious than the MCL and likely requiring surgery, the winger took delivery of a custom brace yesterday and said he hoped to play in the near future.

"Everything seems to be going in the right direction," said Tucker, who plans to skate today.

Pressed about the degree of his knee woes yesterday, he said "it's not my ACL" then asked about his MCL replied coyly "well, you're running out of options now."

GARDEN PARTY

The first Leaf on the ice at Madison Square Garden yesterday morning was Jason Blake, who knows 'the most famous arena in the world' better than most from seven years of crosstown visits as a New York Islander.

Blake had 17 points in 36 games against the Rangers before last night and 44 penalty minutes, his most against any team.

"Early on, there was some bad blood, but the games got tamer," Blake said. "The fans here don't really boo you, but it's a good rivalry, here and on the Island."

Blake didn't go back across to his old haunt during Friday's off day.

"I thought about seeing some friends, but I needed a day of rest," he said.

Since revealing he is suffering a treatable form of leukemia on Oct. 8, Blake had nine points in eight games.

loose leafs

Last night's game featured the three active leaders in NHL game-winning goals, a total of 302 split between Rangers' Jaromir Jagr (107), Brendan Shanahan (105) and Toronto's Mats Sundin (90) ... Sundin was the only Leaf to take yesterday's morning skate off, much to the relief of Maurice, who has been trying to get the 36-year-old captain to conserve energy this season ... Hockey fans hoping to catch one of five NHL games Friday night at various multi-TV, satellite-equipped Manhattan sports bars were shut out. The main attraction in at least five crowded establishments was a Fresno-Boise college football game and an NBA exhibition tilt.


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