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Leafs enter break mostly healthy and totally mediocre

When the Toronto Maple Leafs return from the NHL all-star break they will be relatively healthy, although that certainly does not mean they will be any less mediocre than they were before the hiatus.

Winger Colby Armstrong, who sustained a broken finger in Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, is expected to be ready to play when the Leafs report back to work next Monday. The injury was to Armstrong's finger tip so the team does not think he will miss any games.

That leaves forwards John Mitchell and Colton Orr as the only two players on the questionable list. Mitchell, who hurt the medial collateral ligament in his knee on Jan. 1, took part in his first practice on Wednesday. But he will not know until next week if he can play when the Leafs end the break with a game against the Florida Panthers next Tuesday. Orr is out indefinitely with a concussion.

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The only Leaf who will play in the NHL all-star game is winger Phil Kessel. While he said the game "should be enjoyable" he added the Leafs "need to be better" after the break.

The Leafs' record is a less-than-stellar 19-25-5, which means a playoff spot is practically out of the question. Their main goal in the last 33 games of the season will be to play well enough to avoid finishing in the bottom five overall. The Boston Bruins own the Leafs' first-round pick from the Kessel trade and a bottom-five pick would give them a shot at the No. 1 pick in the entry draft lottery.

Since the Bruins landed Tyler Seguin second overall last year with the other first-round pick they got for Kessel, a second top-five pick would continue the public-relations nightmare for the Leafs.

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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