Last Friday, Colby Armstrong wore a big ugly patch over his right eye, which was injured by a sucker punch from Ben Eager of the Atlanta Thrashers.
On Sunday, in a little bit of levity, Armstrong emerged from the dressing room at the Toyota Center here, following Toronto Maple Leafs practice, wearing sunglasses over a much smaller patch. The look was early Roy Orbison, the shtick something right out of a Borscht Belt comedian’s playbook.
“Just a little scratch,” Armstrong said. “Actually, it hurt pretty bad. I have to wear this eye patch. The sun glasses are optional.”
So is a protective visor in Armstrong’s immediate future? “I think I’m just going to wear these sunglasses actually,” quipped Armstrong, in response.
Still the news was mostly good. Armstrong emerged with a scratched cornea, but there was a chance he could be back in the Leafs’ lineup in time for their game Monday here against the Los Angeles Kings.
A decision will be made Monday, following further medical tests.
As coach Ron Wilson noted: “The eye heals faster than any part of your body. [Sunday], it looked a little better when they took the patch off. It was still kinda leaking a little and kinda disgusting looking, but hopefully by tomorrow, we’ll have a better idea.
“If he can’t play, he can’t play. Hopefully, for San Jose [on Tuesday] at the latest, he’ll be in the lineup.”
Eager received a four-game suspension for the punch to Armstrong’s face, which came in Toronto’s 9-3 win over the Thrashers last Friday. The Leafs took Saturday off and then skated Sunday afternoon at the Kings’ practice facility, the Toyota Center, near Los Angeles International Airport.
Armstrong was held out of practice Sunday, but Jean-Sébastien Giguère (groin) and Mike Brown (broken finger) were both out there again, and Wilson thought both would be back for Toronto’s game Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes, barring any unforeseen setbacks.
The Leafs were riding a high going into the Monday game, which marks the midpoint of their season, after having scored 15 goals in two consecutive wins.
Of late, the unit Wilson calls his No. 1 line now – Mikhail Grabovski between Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur – has been especially good. Grabovski has 12 goals in his past 14 games.
The difference between this season and last, according to Wilson, is that Grabovski put in the time in the off-season to get his conditioning up to snuff.
“It’s shown right from the get-go,” Wilson said. “He’s been one of our best players, night in and night out.”