Toskala, knife could hook up

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

Maple Leafs starter Vesa Toskala may need off-season surgery.

"It's possible," general manager Brian Burke said last night. "(But) there's no resolution at this point."

Speculation has heated up that Toskala may have to go under the knife when the season is over. He underwent an MRI last week on a sore hip, but it revealed that there was no structural damage. Still, the Finnish goaltender has played through hip and groin pain most of the season, to the point where he acknowledged it is difficult to practise at 100% at times.

"I guess I have to talk to our doctors at the end of the season. They'll let me know what's going on and what's best for me and what's best for the team," Toskala said when asked if off-season surgery is a possibility.

"I don't want to speculate on that (when pressed if it would be his hip or groin that would need surgery)."

Toskala has struggled at times this season, with a goals against average of 3.31 and save percentage of .886%, both well under his career numbers, although he has played well recently, including a stellar 31-save performance in a 2-1 shootout win over the New York Rangers last night.

But his inconsistent play this season prompted criticism from Burke two weeks ago. Toskala has hinted at times this season that there is more to his chronically sore hip and groin than meets the eye, saying at one point that he'll talk about it at length when the season is over. Wilson said that the goaltender's improved play lately is a result of harder work in practice.

"He might not admit to that," Wilson said. "But since Burkie challenged him, he has been a much better goalie. If you play well, you never have to worry about being challenged."


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