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Leafs overwhelmed by Blues

by David Alter / Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs played their first game at home since the trade deadline passed on Saturday.

With only pride left to play for, the Leafs were out-matched and out-classed against one of the best teams in the NHL.

Things went off the rails quickly, with the Leafs needing just north of 10 minutes to get their first shot on goal. The Blues ultimately ran wild, exercising their skill and having their way.

In search of a spark, it looked like perhaps the team could rally around a big hit levied by Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf on Blues forward T.J. Oshie. But instead it was more of the Blues imposing their will and skill on the blue and white.

“You want to see the guys respond,” said Leafs interim coach Peter Horachek. “(Zach) Sill got into a scrap. With Dion, it was a slow whistle, their captain came in and delivered a clean hit. You want to see the guys not being very happy in a situation when we’re playing a game like that.”

In the end there weren’t a lot of answers and it appears as though they will be hard to find as the remaining 16 regular season games pass.

“The score reflects the way we played,” said Phaneuf. “We got beat in every aspect of the game. They’re a very good team that has a lot of experience.”

St. Louis outshot Toronto 44-24.

The Leafs surrendered a power play goal midway through the second period, marking the fourth straight game the opponent has scored with the man-advantage and ninth time in the last 10 games.

The special teams goal (scored by Paul Stastny) came just a few minutes after Blues defenceman Chris Butler scored shorthanded. It was the 10th power play goal against for the Leafs this season, which is the most in the NHL.

Jonathan Bernier surrendered three goals on 18 shots as James Reimer played goal in relief for the second and third periods.

Alex Steen continues to be a thorn in Toronto’s side. The former Maple Leaf led the way with three points and has now registered three goals and seven assists in his four games against Toronto.

David Booth scored the lone Leafs goal, marking the first time he’s scored in back-to-back games since March 19-23, when he was a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Now comes a very difficult next step for the Leafs. What do you draw on for inspiration going forward? The obvious clichés are there — Play for a contract, be a professional, etc., but something has to change. Maybe it comes down to changing up the routine or putting yourself in a happy state of mind, mentally.

It’s not going to be easy.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Horachek added after the game.

16 games to go.

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