Armstrong aims at Capitals

Colby Armstrong, assistant captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs speaks to media after the team's...

Colby Armstrong, assistant captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs speaks to media after the team's first practice at the RCAF Fylers Arena Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. (EMILY MOUNTNEY/QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:01 PM ET

Colby Armstrong is keeping his fingers crossed — or his hands folded — about his return to the Maple Leafs lineup.

Armstrong has been out since suffering a sprained ankle in the Leafs’ fifth game of the regular season.

Might he be back on Friday night when the Leafs visit the Washington Capitals?

“Next game, I can pray to get in there,” Armstrong said after skating on Tuesday morning. “It’s tough. Since I have been here, I have had some bad luck with injuries.”

Armstrong, who signed a three-year contract with the Leafs in July 2010, played in just 50 games last season as injuries kept him out of the other 32.

“It’s a lot different watching our team this year than it was last year,” Armstrong said. “The team is consistently better every night. It makes it easier that way, but it’s tough to sit back and not be a part of it.

“Hopefully, I can put (the injuries) behind me. I think it has been some fluky things, but hopefully they’re all done now.”

PHIL THE BALLOT

Leafs winger Phil Kessel, after three weeks of fan voting for the 2012 NHL all-star game in Ottawa in January, leads all players with 384,029 votes as of Tuesday.

Kessel added more than 125,000 votes in the past week. Going into Tuesday’s games, Kessel led the NHL in scoring with 34 points (16 goals and 18 assists) in 27 games.

And he’s not the lone Leaf getting plenty of support. Goaltender James Reimer, despite missing more than a month with concussion-like symptoms, has the most votes at his position. Reimer has garnered 248,412 votes, more than 5,000 ahead of the Boston Bruins’ Tim Thomas, who has 243,311. Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins has 240,289 votes, good for third, and he is more than 100,000 votes up on the Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price, who is fourth.

Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is second among defencemen with 324,031 votes. The lone blueliner in the NHL with more votes than Phaneuf is Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, who has 351,957. Toronto’s John-Michael Liles is seventh with 206,849 votes.

After Kessel, Sidney Crosby of the Penguins is second among forwards with 320,865 votes. Joffrey Lupul is fifth with 263,863.

Fans can vote until Jan. 4.

REALIGN THIS

The most interesting part of the NHL’s realignment plans, in the mind of Leafs defenceman Cody Franson? That two teams in relatively close geographical proximity could meet in the Stanley Cup final.

“I think that’s the biggest thing, to have that possibility the way the playoffs are going to potentially play out,” Franson said. “It should be fun. We’re going to play different teams more.”

LOOSE LEAFS

Mikhail Grabovski was back in the lineup after his girlfriend gave birth to the couple’s second child, a boy, late on Monday night. Grabovski returned to Toronto, missing the game against the New York Rangers, for the birth ... The Leafs, before Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, were 10-0 when leading after two periods. The Marlies, when leading after two periods, also are 10-0.


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