Status quo for Leafs

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

Don't expect any lineup changes tonight when the Leafs host the Nashville Predators at the Air Canada Centre.

Two veteran defenceman, Mike Van Ryn and Jeff Finger, are still out.

Van Ryn, who suffered his second concussion of the season on Dec. 18 in Boston, practised yesterday but still is at least a week or so from returning. He will attend a concussion conference this weekend in his hometown of London, Ont. Finger suffered an undisclosed "upper-body injury" last week and did not practise yesterday.

"It doesn't appear to be severe, but he is going to get an MRI just to make sure," head coach Ron Wilson said of Finger. "Obviously in Canada, sometimes it's tough to get in line for an MRI, so he (had) to go in later (yesterday)."

Winger Jeremy Williams did not practise either after suffering a shoulder injury on Dec. 30.

"It's day by day," Wilson said of Williams, who has five goals in 10 games with the Leafs. "He skated before practice and hopefully in another week or so he'll be ready to go."

Van Ryn will be wearing a new helmet, mouthguard and visor when he returns, though he has trying out his third visor, after not feeling comfortable with the first two.

PLAYING THROUGH RUMOURS

Centre Matt Stajan said the players don't dwell on all the rumours concerning president and general manager Brian Burke looking into making wholesale changes to the team.

"All we can do is come to the rink and work hard and worry about the next game and control what we can control," Stajan said. "He has been brought in to manage the team and make changes if need be and we can't control that. We can control how we play and we can't worry about anything outside of this room."

Stajan said the players try to put the rumours out of their minds, but it's difficult.

"I guess with you guys here every day bringing it up, we're reminded of it," he said. "As professional athletes you have to put everything aside when you come to the rink. If guys aren't doing that, they've got to learn to do it. But that's part of playing in Toronto, people care."

NOW HE GETS IT

Rookie winger Nikolai Kulemin, using fellow teammate Alexei Ponikarovsky as an interpretor, said he now understands what it takes to stick with the big club, after being recalled from the minors this week.

"I have to be more physical and active and go harder on the forecheck and stuff like that," Kulemin said, following practice yesterday. "Some goals come easy, some not, but you have to work hard for all of them."


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