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Leafs look to slay Sabres

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO - It looks as though the Maple Leafs would rather be safe than sorry heading into the Christmas roster freeze with Mikael Renberg suffering from a hip injury.

The Leafs announced Thursday that they have recalled right-winger Paul Healey from the St. John's Maple Leafs.

Renberg was injured during Tuesday night's loss to the Los Angeles Kings and didn't finish the game. The problem kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, plus it will at least keep him out of Friday's tilt with the Buffalo Sabres.
Mikael Renberg won't play Friday night and is doubtful for Saturday.

Toronto may be using Healey as an insurance policy in case any other injuries occur during this weekend's home-and-home series with the Sabres.

Healey, 26, has played in 27 games with the baby Buds this season and has registered 11 goals and 12 assists. The 185-pounder has been hot of late, collecting eight points in his last five AHL games, which helped prompt the call up. The native of Edmonton, Alberta has played in six career NHL games but has been held pointless.

The Leafs hope they aren't held pointless this weekend against the stingy Sabres. Toronto is known to have issues with the boys from Buffalo, especially at HSBC Arena. The Leafs have won just one game in Buffalo since the beginning of the 1999-2000 season and that victory took overtime.

Making matters worse, Toronto's hasn't won in their last six (0-5-1-0) in western New York. The Leafs hope to correct the problem before the return match, Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. Toronto needs to get a couple wins before embarking on a four-game road swing through Carolina, Atlanta, Florida and Tampa Bay.

One thing the Leafs do have going for them is their record in home-and-home series this year. Toronto sports a 5-0-1-2 record against the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers. Sweeps against the Rangers and Hawks sparked Toronto's stretch of six wins in seven games prior to Tuesday's loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

If Renberg is unable to play at all this weekend, Healey isn't the only option. Wade Belak could get the bump up to the wing and the first line. The feisty, yet versatile, tough guy would add a physical presence beside Mats Sundin and Jonas Hoglund. Tie Domi is another named mentioned as a replacement.

As if the injury wasn't enough, Renberg has found himself in a mini-slump, pointless in his last five games and he wants to work through it. Look for the speedy playmaker to play through the pain in at least one of the games this weekend.

NOTES: Curtis Joseph is still feeling lingering effects from the flu. ... Jonas Hoglund expects to be named to the Swedish Olympic team on Saturday.
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