Leaf forward still hurting

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:36 PM ET

A still-woozy Jason Blake was not on the ice for the Leafs noon-hour practice today and isn't expected to make the trip to Ottawa for tomorrow's date with the Senators.

The Leafs forward was nailed by Atlanta's Colby Armstrong in yesterday's 6-3 loss at the Air Canada Centre and didn't return to action.

"He's banged up," Leafs assistant coach Tim Hunter said following today's workout at the Lakeshore Lions Arena. "He had a headache and some neck problems.

"I don't think (he will be going to Ottawa) as of now."

Hunter and fellow assistants Rob Zettler and Keith Acton ran today's practice while head coach Ron Wilson and general manager Cliff Fletcher attended the matinee Marlies game at the Ricoh Coliseum. It is expected a forward from the team's AHL affiliate will be called up to replace Blake.

Wilson said after the game he felt Armstrong left his feet to nail Blake, who had his head down looking for a pass.

"It's a tough thing," Hunter said today. "Armstrong finished his hit, Blakey's a smaller guy. I'm sure the NHL will determine (if it was a good hit).

After being pushed around by the Thrashers in one of their worst losses of the season, the word of the day today was compete with much of the practice spent on defensive zone work.

That led to some spirited play including a minor scrap between Jeff Finger and Dominic Moore that was quickly broken up by teammates.

"We talked to them at the end of practice...I said I liked it," said Hunter, who was known for his physical play during his NHL career. "It's good. We said 'you guys are teammates and you compete.'

"Jeff maybe cross-checked (Moore) into the boards and Moorsie took exception to it and that's great. That's the compete level we need right through the lineup for 60 minutes."

Neither player took the minor dustup personally.

"You can't read a whole lot into that," teammate Ian White said. "Since I've been playing hockey there's two or three scraps in practice every year so we got one out of the way."

"It's never personal," Finger said. "We were just battling. Sometimes it happens. That wasn't out of frustration."

The Leafs flew out to Ottawa after the practice where they will meet another struggling team in one of the weaker renewals of the Battle of Ontario. The Leafs, who have now dropped four games in a row and have won just twice in their past 10, are currently one point up on the Sens who are in last place in the Northeast Division but have a game in hand.


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