Tucker ignores critics

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

As Darcy Tucker's ailing knee gets better, there is obviously nothing wrong with his ears.

As he slowly rounds back into form, Tucker has heard the criticism that he is not playing with the same physical, at-times bone-crunching zeal he has exhibited in the past.

"I don't really care what people say outside this (dressing) room," Tucker said yesterday.

"So long as people in this room care and respect the effort I am giving, that's all that matters."

Tucker believes he is rounding into form with every outing.

"I've felt better every game since I've been back," said Tucker, who has two goals and four assists in 15 games this season.

"The legs come before the hands. It's just nice that I'm feeling better on the ice."

THE TRAINER'S ROOM

Towering defenceman Hal Gill sat out yesterday's practice to nurse a variety of bumps and bruises, but said he would be back in the lineup to face the Dallas Stars tomorrow night.

"Just cleaning out the engine, I guess," Gill said, praising coach Paul Maurice in the process.

"He's pretty good about knowing when a guy is sore and might benefit from a day off the ice."

Forward Chad Kilger has been nursing a bad leg since suffering the injury during practice Friday and was not in the lineup for the Leafs' 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre.

But Kilger was back on the ice for yesterday's workout and hopes to play against the Stars.

"It's still a bit sore, but we'll see. That's the plan, anyway," he said.

Defencemen Carlo Colaiacovo and PavelKubina will not make the trip, although both seem to be making headway from their respective knee injuries.

Colaiacovo has started working with the Leafs' power skating coach. The next step will be joining the rest of the team for a full practice.

Maurice, meanwhile, said Kubina might be back on the ice as early as next week, although there remains plenty of rehab ahead of him.


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