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Darcy Tucker is out of Leafs lineup indefinitely with right knee injury @NHLdotcom

TORONTO - Darcy Tucker has a black right eye and a fat lower lip, but it is his right knee that is of concern.

"I've got some problems ligament-wise with my knee," the Toronto Maple Leafs right-winger divulged Monday. He won't play when the Atlanta Thrashers visit Tuesday and has no idea when he'll be fit to play again.

"I don't know time frame-wise how long it's going to be but as of now it's indefinite," he said.

Tucker explained that he felt a pang in the knee during summer workouts and felt it was coming along fine in recent games, but when he collided with a Chicago player early in the third period of a 6-4 loss to the Blackhawks on Saturday, the hit "made something else hurt."

He had an MRI Sunday, revealing "slight damage to some ligaments." Surgery is not expected to be required. He'll get a brace for the wonky hinge and see how it goes from there.

"Hopefully we can get this thing rectified as soon as possible and get back out there," he said. "I'll try to come back at 100 per cent.

"Anytime you try to play the game at less than 100 per cent you're not doing anybody any good."

Tucker joins Kyle Wellwood (groin) and Carlo Colaiacovo (knee) on the injured list.

"We're not using that as the sole reason for being in the situation we're in but you always miss your core players," coach Paul Maurice replied when asked if injuries have been a factor in the club's mediocre start.

Boyd Devereaux's sore back is better and he'll get the latest roster opening.

"He's become a father again so there's some positive news on the Leaf front," said Maurice.

That's the only positive news since the Leafs relinquished five goals to Chicago in the third period to blow a game they led 3-1.

Toronto has had no trouble scoring and is 3-4-2 because its 4.03 goals-against average is second-worst in the league. Only Atlanta (4.50) is worse.

"We are a team that can score goals, there's no doubt about that," says captain Mats Sundin. "Obviously, our concern is to keep the puck out of our net.

"That's the issue we have to deal with as a group. It's not only goalies and defence, it's all the forwards, too - everybody that's on the ice. It's something we have to improve on rapidly to be a playoff team - that and staying out of the penalty box."

The need to improve defensively has been stressed repeatedly, yet, the Leafs haven't responded. So, Maurice was asked, why not go gung-ho on offence and try to score 10 goals a game instead of nitpicking about defence?

"I would suggest that we score an awful lot of goals and we score enough goals to win games so offence is a priority for our team," Maurice responded. "What we're trying to do is do both.

"I don't think there are very many teams now that can do just one and be totally successful. To be a great team you have to do both, and that's our goal."

Maurice, who is clearly a glass half-full rather than glass half-empty kind of guy, looked for a silver lining as his players headed home after their one-hour workout Monday.

"I really liked the way our hockey team practised," he said. "It was a really good pace with good jump with not necessarily a light mood but a positive mood.

"We did what we could to get ourselves out of feeling like we did after the Chicago game and to give ourselves an opportunity to feel real good after (the Tuesday) game. The leaders did a really good job of pushing the pace of practice and the group fell in line with those guys. We had a good day."

Some positive things, such as Sundin's impressive performances, are being masked by the negatives, he added.

Defenceman Anton Stralman was summoned from the AHL Marlies.

"He's played well down there," said Maurice. "He performed well enough in the exhibitions for me that we have no worries or concerns (about putting him into an NHL game).

"He skates well, moves the puck well and reads the game in front of him quite well. We'll make a decision at game time and if he's in the lineup we'll expect him to do all those things he's done well for the Marlies."

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