Rookie Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn could be back in the lineup within a week as he continues to recover from a knee injury he suffered against Washington on Dec. 6.
Out with a sprained knee after running into Alexander Ovechkin, Schenn resumed skating with the team last week. Yesterday was his most ambitious practice yet and Schenn was pleased with how his knee held up.
"It's been good, I feel a lot better lately," said Schenn, who stayed on the ice longer than most of his teammates yesterday. "This week I'm getting pushed pretty hard. It's still a little sore at times but for the most part it feels better.
"I'm doing a little more every day and it's feeling stronger."
In his down time, Schenn has seen enough of the harmless looking play in which he collided with Ovechkin.
"I've been watching it and I'm still trying to figure it out," Schenn said. "It looked like the most innocent play. Hard to believe you would get hurt on it."
Leafs coach Ron Wilson said the prized first-round pick won't be rushed back.
"He's probably a week away," Wilson said. "With a knee injury like that you don't want to rush him along because a setback could keep him off the ice for another month. We don't need that."
THAT SICK FEELING
Leafs forward Nik Antropov was absent from yesterday's practice due to sickness prompting Wilson to jokingly offer a different motive for the native of Kazakhstan's truancy.
"He was sick but I think he was more sick from that 15-0 drubbing Kazakhstan took," Wilson said, referring to Canada's 15-0 win at the world junior championship in Ottawa. "He might have owed some guys some money and he just decided not to come and hope they forgot."
Former Canadian junior star Schenn got his shot in as well. "He's probably feeling a little sorry for himself. That game wasn't even fair."
On a roll, Wilson said that if the U.S. get blown out by Canada later in the tourney, he'll be lying low as well.
"If the U.S. loses to Canada 15-0 you'll probably see (Leafs assistant coaches) Tim Hunter, Rob Zettler and Keith Acton run the bench," said Wilson, who holds Canadian and American citizenship but has coached the U.S. at the Olympics. "I'd be hiding under a rock."
With Antropov sick and Matt Stajan out with an eye injury, the third member of what has often been the first line, Alexei Ponikarovsky, had new mates yesterday. Ponikarovsky skated with John Mitchell and Lee Stempniak ... The Thrashers come to town following a 2-1 loss to Eastern Conference leading Boston on Sunday.