Leafs' Brown eager to play

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:28 PM ET

A few days ago, the return of goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere and energy left winger Mike Brown were seen as the key to recovery for slumping Toronto.

On Wednesday, Brown was getting the gears from teammates about not jinxing the Leafs while on their four-win roll.

“Both Jiggy and I were saying they’re doing good, I don’t want to screw anything up,” joked Brown.

But he’s waited too long to come back — and worked too hard.

“They said four to six weeks and it’s been about six. Everything is good now, I can take slapshots and one timers,” Brown said.

He shattered his index finger blocking a shot in a Nov. 30 loss to Tampa Bay — “it was bent like a question mark” recalled Colby Armstrong — but he stayed on the ice and blocked another before getting treatment.

The fourth liner will finally get clearance for Thursday’s game in Phoenix. With wingers Fredrik Sjostrom and Kris Versteeg taking Wednesday’s practice off, it’s possible Brown will take their spot or replace Colton Orr.

Sjostrom had a charley horse coming into Tuesday’s game in San Jose and didn’t play after the second period.

The Leafs had 21 men on the roster, but even with Brown and Giguere coming off the injured reserve list, John Mitchell (knee) is still there and that means the Leafs have room to keep goalie James Reimer up.

Shakin’ all over

Coach Ron Wilson was one of the Leafs rattled out of bed early Wednesday in San Jose at the team hotel by an earthquake that measured anywhere from 3.9 to 4.1.

“When you’ve been in California (as coach of the Anaheim Ducks), I’ve been through a couple of bad ones,” Wilson said.

“You put your clothes on just in case a bigger one was coming.

“It was a brief one. I thought it was (ex-Leaf turned broadcaster) Bob McGill coming in and banging his head on something.”

The Leafs flew to Phoenix later in the day.

Coyotes not ugly

Thursday’s Leafs’ visit to Phoenix might have been a game in nearby Hamilton had the sale of the club gone through to Jim Balsillie a couple of years ago.

But the Coyotes are holding steady, trying to build on last year’s surprise playoff appearance and on pace for about as many points. They traded forward Wojtek Wolksi to the Rangers for defenceman Michal Rozsival this week, but the latter is banged up a bit with a rib and is questionable to play the Leafs.

Still, Phoenix could afford to lose Wolski as they had like-minded players in Scottie Upshall and Ray Whitney, where Wolski had only six goals and was not on good terms with coach Dave Tippett.

It’s expected Kyle Turris will get more playing time with offensive-minded lines. The Coyotes need Rozsival having lacked a horse on the blue line since Zbynek Michalek signed with Pittsburgh.

Ex-Leaf Lee Stempniak was playing on the fourth line at last report, with just nine goals in 43 games.


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