An eye on the ball

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Maple Leafs lost their No. 1 centre before practice even started yesterday.

Warming up prior to a workout at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex outside of D.C., yesterday, Matt Stajan accidently took a soccer ball to the eye and had to seek medical attention. His status for tonight's game against the Capitals at the Verizon Center is unclear.

"I don't know what the prognosis is," coach Ron Wilson said. "He had some blurred vision."

Rookie Nikolai Kulemin practised with Stajan's usual linemates, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

The news on the injury front was mixed for the Leafs yesterday.

After the Stajan mishap, Wilson revealed that defenceman Mike Van Ryn, who suffered his second concussion of the season in Boston on Dec. 18, has been put on the injured reserve and was sent home on Friday from Long Island.

"He didn't feel well," Wilson said. "He's probably about 10 days (away from returning) on the conservative side."

Van Ryn earlier suffered a multitude of injuries, including a concussion, on Nov. 8 when he was hit from behind into the boards a game against the Montreal Canadiens. He missed 13 games as a result of that incident and was arguably the best all-around Leafs defenceman at the time.

But there is good news. Rugged winger Jamal Mayers, who has missed the past 10 games because of a broken hand, may play tonight.

"I tried a few faceoffs (Friday) before the game and I felt fine," Mayers said. "It's still a little bit stiff and sore but it's ready enough to go."

Rookie defenceman Luke Schenn, who injured his knee on Dec. 6, is doing some skating drills but is still about a week away from returning.


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