Finger's foot healing

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Veteran defenceman Jeff Finger, who missed much of the pre-season with a bruised foot, skated at practice yesterday, but is expected to miss the home opener tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

"We're going to have to be patient and let him heal," head coach Ron Wilson said. "There's no rush for him to get back. We have depth on defence.

Wilson added that there won't be any lineup changes from Thursday night, when the Leafs beat the Red Wings in Detroit.

Rugged winger Ryan Hollweg returns from a two-game suspension for Monday's game at the ACC against the St. Louis Blues, and likely will play.

BALANCED ATTACK

Wilson said that he will go with a balanced four-line attack for much of the early season, until his players ramp up their conditioning, and then he'll likely use the top two or three lines more. Toronto's forechecking system will require solid conditioning and speed.

"I don't think we're near where I'd like to see us," he said of the club's conditioning. "That's not the fault of the players, they just have to get used to our practices and our style of play and as we go forward in the season, they'll get more conditioned to play that way."

Wilson said he will keep his forward shifts to roughly 35 seconds each.

"That's going to be huge early in the season, before we get our legs under us," he said.

SABOTEUR STRIKES

The head coach was in for a surprise at practice yesterday when his stick snapped in half as he rested on it -- obviously the result of a saboteur inside the dressing room. But Wilson vowed his revenge.

"They've dialed it up a notch," the coach said, of the shenanigans. "I don't know if they understand how bad this could get for them. We'll see."

Wilson said someone also put cream in his shoes earlier during camp.

"As long as they don't loosen the nuts on a tire of my car, I'll be okay," he said, with a laugh. "I can replace the shoe, I can get a new stick.


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