The Washington Times - November 19, 2011, 02:52PM

TORONTO | Things aren’t pretty when an NHL team can put a pretty good starting six out there of guys who are ut of the lineup. Such is almost the case for the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose injury report includes forwards Colby Armstrong, Mikhail Grabovski, Matthew Lombardi, Clarke MacArthur and Mike Brown, defenseman Mike Komisarek and goalie James Reimer.

It hurts just to read off that list. Battered by injuries, the Leafs are 1-4-1 in their past six games. They’re expected to be without seven regulars for Saturday night’s game against the Washington Capitals.


“Sometimes you can go a year or two and it seems like your team has no injuries other than minor ones, and some years like this you just go through an injury bug and everybody starts going down,” forward Joey Crabb said. “I don’t know. It’s something that’s part of the game and you’ve got to battle through it.”

They’ve been forced to lean even more heavily on All-Star Phil Kessel and captain Dion Phaneuf and call up guys like Joe Colborne, who’s set to play just his second NHL game Saturday night against the Caps.

“He was player of the month in the American Hockey League. It’s fairly easy to get that opportunity,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. “And we’re missing so much skill, we needed a skill player to put in.”

Colborne will likely skate between Crabb and ex-Caps forward David Steckel.

“Whoever they put in, they’re extremely fast,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said of the Leafs, whom he watches just about ever game. “Speed kills in this game.”

This rash of injuries, some players said, has a silver lining because it creates chances.

“I think the guys here who are stepping in take it as an opportunity to play well,” Steckel said. “As a team, that’s what we’re going to have to do. We can’t have passengers. All 20 guys have to be going on a nightly basis until some of the guys can come back.”

It’s a theme that is pretty prevalent around the home locker room at Air Canada Centre, as the Leafs try to snap out of a funk.

“It’s definitely an opportunity for guys, but you never want to see injuries, especially with a lot of the top level that we have,” Crabb said. “Anytime there’s the injury bug going around like it has on our team, we’ve got quite a few, obviously it hurts your team. It creates opportunities for other guys, and hopefully someone will step up.”