Kubina, Kaberle, Tucker expected to play

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Normally when keen-eyed reporters notice a gaggle of no-shows at an NHL practice this close to the trade deadline, the logical conclusion is that the missing bodies were kept off the ice because they are on the verge of being dealt away.

For wishful Maple Leafs fans hoping the absence of Pavel Kubina, Tomas Kaberle, Darcy Tucker and Boyd Devereaux might be the harbinger of an eye-bulging blockbuster pulled off by interim general manager Cliff Fletcher, well, no such luck.

There were legitimate reasons for all four missing yesterday's noontime workout at Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday, each one related to health issues.

Tucker and Kubina were plunked by shots during the Leafs' 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre. Both did return later in the game, although Kubina played just two minutes in the third period.

Kaberle, meanwhile, has been grappling with an ornery flu bug, one which caused him to receive intravenous treatments for an extended period well after the final horn had sounded on the Leaf victory.

Not all is gloom and doom, however.

Coach Paul Maurice expects Kubina, Kaberle and Tucker to be back in the lineup when the Leafs play host to the Buffalo Sabres tonight.

As for Devereaux, he underwent an MRI on his ailing knee yesterday and is expected to receive the results today. The gritty forward was hurt with less than five minutes in the game and needed to be helped off the ice.

"If Boyd says he's fine, then he'll go," Maurice said of the veteran winger, who hobbled out of the Air Canada Centre about an hour after the game.

The Leafs coach was impressed with the pain threshold exhibited by his players, specifically Kubina.

"He couldn't finish the game, which was a concern at the time," Maurice said. "But I'll take Pavel Kubina at 90% any time. He's a tough character."

Heading into the matchup against Columbus, the Leafs had been relatively healthy, a rare sight in this disappointing season. But it didn't take long for the trainer's room to get stuffed with bodies again.

"We seem to have a full roster curse," Maurice said. "Don't forget, Matt Stajan got cut in that game too.

"We just seemed to get every- one healthy again. But that didn't last too long, now did it?"


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