Watching the last 10 games, one wonders what the Maple Leafs have to do in order to catch a break.
“I say that to myself, I said I must have done something wrong because we had some opportunities that would have separated that,” said Leafs interim coach Peter Horachek.
Of course, the coach is referring to many chances where he felt the team deserved better but there is one flashpoint that sticks out. A circus save by Predators goaltender Carter Hutton prevented the Leafs from securing at least one point last night.
“The one bank that went off his pads where Hutton turned around and banged that puck out of midair with his stick, that was a pretty incredible save. Normally those things are going to go in as well.”
That particular save will be on every highlight reel. Many are calling it the save of the year.
It’s clear the Leafs are feeling the extreme circumstances of bad luck. It’s not a surprise this wasn’t what Horachek envisioned when he took over the interim coaching spot early last month.
“I don’t know if shocked or surprised is the right word, but I haven’t really seen this before. It doesn’t mean we can’t keep going. Bowing your head or putting your lip out or feeling sorry for yourself has no success rate. Zero. We have to push ourselves, push our approach with how we want to do things. It’s not always easy but we’re going to keep going.”
The Leafs possession numbers have trended in a positive direction. Defensively, the Leafs have played better. The scoring drought has been historic. It also means ice-time is up for grabs and there is no definition of a top-line, at least for now.
“I’m not going to call them first, second or third anymore. They’re going to be by how they are playing and that’s where the (ice) time is going to go,” Horachek said. “You might have called the fourth line with (David) Booth and (Richard) Panik but they were probably our best or second best line the whole night.”
As one of the leaders on this team, Horachek decided to go back to Jonathan Bernier after he went off to get 12 stitches in Tuesday’s game. It’s the leadership that is looked at to try and pull the team out of its’ current slide.
Stephane Robidas made a return to the lineup after being out since before the all-star break with an upper-body injury. The swoon isn’t like anything he had ever seen at this level.
“Obviously it's tough. I'm not going to lie to you, it's tough,” said Robidas. “We're a proud group, we want to win, we want to find a way to get back on winning and it hasn't been easy. I think we try to stay positive as much as we can and try to build off the good things we've been doing.”
Robidas recalls his time with Fredericton Canadiens of the AHL in the late 90’s when he last was part of a slump of this magnitude.
"When I was in the minors we went through a stretch where we lost I think it was like 14 or 15 in a row. That year we went to the conference final. It's one of those where it's not easy, but I think it can make a team stronger at the same time."
The Leafs return to the ice Thursday after a day away from the rink.