Leafs Hurting Without Armstrong

No team that is strictly a one-man show can win a Stanley Cup, but how about win one game?

One. That is all. It’s not asking for much, is it?

Most people would point to Phil Kessel or J.S. Giguere as that one man who has the privilege, or to some the burden, of carrying 43 years of failure on his shoulders. While Kessel has been good this season as he has 8 goals thus far (on pace for 41) and Giguere has stolen a couple games and kept them in games for the most part, could it be that someone else is just as vital to the Leafs play as these two?

How about Colby Armstrong?

Yeah, he is just a third-liner that plays with an edge. But, isn’t that what the Leafs have been lacking for much of their recent winless streak?

Yup, I know I am asking a lot of rhetorical questions in this piece. Deal with it, yo.

It’s not by coincidence that they have not won a game since he went down with injury, 8 and counting.

Alright, maybe it is not all due to him getting hurt but I hope this proves just how vital he is to this Leafs team. Dion Phaneuf is also hurt, but somehow I think his on-ice absence isn’t felt as greatly as that of Armstrong’s. It is probably due to the fact that he did not make much of an impact defensively before getting hurt nor did he make an impact offensively, missing the net with point shots far too often.

With Armstrong out of the line-up, the Leafs line-up has shuffled more than a deck of cards at Casino Rama. Don’t under-estimate the importance of a third-line checker who gets in the opposing team’s faces every night. The Leafs haven’t had that since Darcy Tucker, and Armstrong was proving to be just that type of player minus the power play goals.

Mike Brown can fill in on the third-line sometimes, but he is best suited to play fourth-line minutes while having a penalty kill role and Luca Caputi is not ready to be used as a shut-down winger, mainly because he is not as good defensively nor is he gritty enough although he tries. As for John Mitchell, don’t get me started. I don’t know why he continues to see the playing time he receives as he’s not a scorer or a checker, I’m not even sure he knows what he is.

The Leafs don’t have someone they can use to replace Armstrong with so his return is key to any long-term success the Leafs are planning to have.

In the mean time, how about they score some goals? Holy crap, the offense has gone to the shits.

Yes, the call-up of Nazem Kadri will help but it may take him a few games to get accustomed to his line-mates and whatnot. Although, in his first game of the season he did set up Nikolai Kulemin and Tyler Bozak a few times with some pretty passes but they failed to capitalize. He definitely could have had a few assists.

Hopefully the Toronto media lay off him (haha, I’m so funny) so he has space to breathe.

Brian Burke already told everyone that Kadri is not the saviour. But, he never said who was. Here’s to Colby Armstrong and a quick, speedy recovery cause he’s more vital to this team than anyone had anticipated

We all know Toronto loves its heroes, and when the heroes are struggling it needs a villain.

A couple more losses and that villain could be, not a player but, head coach Ron Wilson.

Follow on Twitter: @gagangandhi
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