MONTREAL — The Maple Leafs were hoping they'd have Tomas Kaberle tonight against their ancient rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.
Instead, with Kaberle again out of the lineup, they're not just
hoping another week of rest for his battered right hand might have him
back in a week against another Original Six club, the Boston Bruins.
Meanwhile, it now appears that the Canadiens will dress both
defenceman Mike Komisarek and forward Andrei Kostitsyn for tonight's
game after GM/head coach Bob Gainey hinted both would be scratched. The
Canadiens chose not to precede the Leafs on to the Bell Centre ice
surface for the morning skate today, instead using their practice
facility in nearby Brassard, possibly to escape greater media scrutiny.
At practice on Friday, both Komisarek and Kostitsyn had skated as
spares, leading to speculation they wouldn't play tonight. Gainey
seemed to indicate that would be the case, but apparently had a chance
of heart this morning.
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Montreal will, however, scratch veteran blueliner Patrice Brisebois
and will likely dress Ryan O'Byrne. Mathieu Schneider will apparently
be a game time decision for family reasons.
Kaberle, meanwhile,was ruled out of tonight's game after x-rays of
his injured hand suggested it hasn't healed enough to warrant a return
to regular action.
"He won't be playing tonight, and he'll probably miss another week,"
said head coach Ron Wilson this morning. "It's not cautionary. He's
just not ready to play."
Kaberle orginally broke his hand Jan. 29 in Denver and missed 13
games. He returned Feb. 28 for two games, but will miss his ninth
consecutive game tonight despite having practiced full out with the
club for several days.
His absence has opened the doors to other Leafs, including
Brampton's own Phil Oreskovic. Wilson hinted this morning that he might
even put Oreskovic in the starting lineup tonight against the Habs as a
reward for his steady play since being recalled from the AHL Marlies.