Leafs Expecting Boost: Mike Brown and Colby Armstrong Return, Brett Lebda Hurt

Louis PisanoAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2011

Both to return line up
Both to return line upChristian Petersen/Getty Images

Reports have been coming in via Tony Ambrogio tweets that Mike Brown and Colby Armstrong are going to be returning to the Leafs lineup from their injuries.

Both look ready, according to Ambrogio, who watched the practice during the Monday morning skate.

Brown, Darryl Boyce and Armstrong will apparently make up the third line.

Brown, who was recently signed to a three-year extension, has been a spark plug on the ice and at $760K next year and $725K for each of the next two years is a smart signing. He brings a great work ethic, toughness without stupidity and energy every shift without being a defensive liability, as some of the tougher players can be.

Armstrong has been solid this year when healthy. His aptitude for the cycle game and winning puck battles on the boards down low on the forecheck has been sorely missed in his absence.

With Toronto only seven points out of the playoffs and with 23 games remaining, the Leafs will need to stay healthy if they hope to reach the postseason, as is the case with any team—just ask the Penguins brass.

Brett Lebda, who hasn’t seen regular ice time throughout the season but has shown sparks of being a puck mover, though he has turned the puck over on numerous occasions, was helped off the ice at practice and couldn’t put weight on his left leg after taking a shot off it. (Again, thank you Mr. Ambrogio, who also mentioned somewhere Tomas Kaberle is smiling.)

Losing Lebda might be a blessing in disguise, as his play has been questionable and the opportunity to get a look at another piece of the youthful future presents itself for Leafs Nation and brass.

Two back in the lineup and one out—the life of an NHL coach is seemingly one of constant shuffle and adjustment.

The Leafs haven’t yet made the call to their AHL affiliate Marlies, but one should be coming soon after they finish playing the San Antonio Rampage.

Three possible names we could see tomorrow night when the Leafs host the surging Islanders at the ACC are Matt Lashoff, who I’d expect to top the list, or perhaps Simon Gysbers or Danny Richmond.

Injuries to D-men seem to be a league-wide conundrum. Could Brian Burke yet again pull off a miracle and alleviate the Leafs of the overpaid and AHL-buried Jeff Finger, who at $3.5 million and one year left on his ridiculous contract is a thorn in the Leafs' side?

Not so far-fetched—he did get rid of a bunch of useless trash before (see Calgary trade, Niklas Hagman and Co., and Anaheim trade, Vesa Toskala/Jason Blake).

Though this is highly unlikely...I would happily take a bag of pucks and one pylon for the aforementioned Finger! Desperate times call for desperate measures. Okay, so teams may not be so desperate as to take on Finger and his contract, but he has NHL experience to say the least.

Lets hope the Leafs can find a way to get a couple points Tuesday at the ACC against this upstart Islanders team. The Isles have seen their fair share of injuries this season, to say the least, but are doing the best they can at this point, and Toronto will seemingly have to follow suit while getting healthier.