Leafs' Brown back around

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:55 PM ET

TORONTO - Injured Leaf Mike Brown was back on the ice during the morning skate Monday and is not far off from returning to action.

Thats good news for the Leafs, who need all the help they can get in their quest to make the nearly impossible climb back into playoff contention.

In 22 games Brown has just two points, but he adds a lot of grit to the lineup and at a zero plus/minus rating he is one of only four Leafs whose rating is not in negative territory. The fourth-line forward, who broke the index finger on his left hand blocking a shot in a Nov. 30 loss to Tampa Bay, was able to grip his hockey stick and handle the puck during the skate.

Hes probably a week to 10 days away, coach Ron Wilson said. I didnt see today if hes shooting, hes not supposed to shoot. We want to make sure that the break on his finger is completely healed.

HAD HIS PHIL

Sniper Phil Kessel has heard just about enough of the comparisons between himself and the player the Leafs could have had in his place had they not traded away two first-round draft picks and a second-rounder to the Boston Bruins to acquire the forward. Tyler Seguin, who went second overall in the 2010 entry draft, was in town last night for the second time this season and some of the inevitable questions arose as to how Kessel felt about the situation.

I got traded two years ago already, so I dont know why were talking about it still, an irritated Kessel said. I answer (the questions) every time we play. What is this, the ninth time we played them? I dont really have anything to say about it.

TWO OF A KIND

Due to injury woes and a lack of success on the ice, the Leafs have been forced to turn to their farmhands a little more than they would have liked. All in all, nine Marlies have been called up to the big club this season.

None have had a more immediate impact than forwards Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb. Crabb, who has skated alongside Kessel and Tyler Bozak, had four points in five games heading into last night, including assists on Bozaks two markers in a 5-1 win Saturday over the Ottawa Senators, while Boyce picked up his first NHL goal in the game playing on a line with Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong.

Ive been in situations in the past where maybe one guy gets called up all year and its a little bit frustrating, Crabb said.

But I think for us its been good and Im sure for the guys down there right now it looks good for them, guys getting called up and having a little success.

REIMERS REASONING

Goaltender James Reimer knows his time with the Leafs might be limited even though he picked up his first NHL win in his very first start, a 5-1 decision over the Senators. With No. 1 netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere on the mend and practising in full equipment, and Reimer being the third option behind Jonas Gustavsson, the Winnipeg native is just trying to make the most of his time with the big club.

Up here I get to work with (famed goalie coach) Francois Allaire a lot and I practice hard. Its priceless teaching and training, so I just take that and try to get better and take that down to the Marlies whenever Jiggy returns.


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