After a game as ugly as tonight's 4-0 loss to the Lightning, one would expect Leafs coach Ron Wilson to come out guns ablazing, ripping his team's performance and calling out his stars.
Instead, the coach was rather understated, and it was the players themselves who offered the harshest criticisms of their play, with veteran netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere leading the way.
"We didn't compete," Giguere said. "You knew they were going to be ready, they got beat pretty bad the last game on the road ... You've got to be aware of these things. I don't know. I'm a bit lost. I don't know what to say. We're just going to have to regroup."
Giguere said the team's slow start was what really killed them, as after failing to capitalize on an early 5-on-3, Toronto seemed to back off and allow the Lightning to take control of the game with three quick goals.
"I think it was obvious we weren't ready to start ... As a group, we just weren't ready to compete and do what we needed to do to win the game," he said. "I mean, we played better in the second and third but that's not enough. In the situation we're in, you need to see some desperation out of the guys, some competitiveness and we're not seeing that.
"I don't understand why it's not happening. There's nothing given in this league. It's a tough league to win in, especially on the road. You need to show up ready. Things might not go your way, that's understandable, and you're not going to win them all but after you lose a few in a row like that, you need to start showing something.
"Tonight we didn't even have a chance."
Giguere actually played fairly well in the game, as it could have been a lot more lopsided, scorewise, than it was. He added that after the team's sixth loss in a row, and ninth in the past 10 games, all they could do was look forward to tomorrow against the Panthers, the only team they've beaten since the losing skid started Oct. 15.
"The key is to forget about this game and move on," he said. "We're going to have to come ready to play tomorrow. I mean this is a young group, we should have energy every game, we shouldn't be tired. We have lots of days off. If you're tired, you've got to, you know, rethink what you're doing. Because this is unacceptable."
Wilson puts on brave face after loss
The full audio for the coach's press conference is available below, but these were the highlights:
- "We played really hard in the second and third period but we just couldn't score on our chances. We had some great ones too and we made the goalie look like an all-star in a few situations."
- "You've got to stick with it. We never gave up. The only thing is we didn't score, so that's a little bit frustrating and I don't want our team to just go to bed thinking of ways to score - we have to play better defensively than we did in the first period. We've got to get our D to find a way to get their shots through. For God sakes, the other team's D are finding ways to get pucks towards the net."
The line juggling continues
At even strength, Wilson used these forward lines the most tonight as he continues to search for combinations that work:
29%: MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin 13%: Mitchell - Bozak - Kessel 8%: Caputi - Brent - Orr 8%: Versteeg - Bozak - Kessel 42%: Other combinations
The defence pairings remained relatively stable, although Brett Lebda drew a big-time minute increase with more than 20 in this one. Mike Komisarek was down to below 17 minutes again.