The Maple Leafs spent a good portion following Saturday’s game reflecting on an issue that is becoming difficult to get their heads around… their compete level at Air Canada Centre.
“We got beat in every aspect of the game, again,” said captain Dion Phaneuf, who was candid about the team’s struggles at home. “For some reason, one night we’ll play the way we have to, we’ll play to our system and the next night we come out and we’re completely flat. It’s inexcusable”
Through five home games this season, the Leafs have had three performances where they lost by three goals. And the score would very much be a reflection of the way they played. The team sports a 1-4 record at Air Canada Centre and have dropped all four games, in which they have given up the first tally.
“The first goal seems to sink our group and then the squeezing of the sticks. There are passes we normally would make that are going into people’s feet,” said head coach Randy Carlyle. “The pressure of playing at home when things don’t go well, that’s the difference. I think the first sign of adversity at home seems to multiply."
There have been a couple of games where the Leafs have shown an ability to bounce back from these types of performances. It’s become evident following tonight’s 4-1 loss, the team isn’t ok with having these types of losses happen with regularity.
“It doesn’t feel good to leave the ice like that and it has happened three times,” said Joffrey Lupul. “You always say a loss is a loss and you didn’t get the points. But, that feels worse. We’ve got to fix that situation or the team isn’t going anywhere.”
Cody Franson agreed.
“It’s very frustrating. We go to the Island and we play a really solid game and get the results because of it. And then we come out tonight and lay and egg, if you will. There are things we have to change when we approach games in terms of our execution.”
All things boil down to the compete level,a category dominated by Boston. They’ve established a style of hockey that the team has played for several seasons.
“There’s not a reward for your effort if you’re standing still and not prepared to skate and move and get inside” added Carlyle. “They were inside of us for more than half the game and they won the puck battles.”
Panik’s First Goal
Richard Panik scored his first goal as a member of the Maple Leafs which broke a shutout bid for Tuukka Rask. “It felt pretty good but I would take the win over the goal anytime,” said Panik who was claimed off waivers earlier this month. Rask, meanwhile, improves his career record to 10-2 vs. the Maple Leafs.
Prior to the game, the Leafs held a united tribute with the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens to those who lost their lives this past week in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa.
“It’s always nice to see people get united like this,” said Stephane Robidas. “The way they did it with people in Ottawa on the Jumbotron, I thought it was a pretty nice gesture.”