Ron Wilson seemed embarrassed by what he witnessed on the ice.
His team had spotted the NHL's hottest team a 4-0 lead before finally waking up in the third period and dominating the play, too little too late against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby.
And the Leafs coach was left wishing he had a player like the Pens captain to call his own.
"Well he competes," Wilson said. "You know? I wish we had more guys [like that and] our top players play as hard as he did. You get to him and he stands up for himself and when his teammates see him doing that, they play hard, too."
Asked about the game's turning point, Wilson then offered a stern indictment of his team.
"The turning point of the game was when they dropped the opening faceoff," he said.
The coach then abruptly ended the media scrum after less than two minutes and in the middle of a reporter's question.
The game was yet another Jekyll and Hyde turn by the Leafs, who were out shot 24-10 and out classed in the first two periods, allowing Crosby and company to walk all over them until the game was essentially out of reach. Netminder Jonas Gustavsson held Toronto in the game in the first period but faltered as things unravelled in the second, allowing three goals in a three minute span to nearly guarantee the Penguins their 11th straight win.
Afterwards, a brief slip of the tongue by Colby Armstrong seemed to sum up facing Crosby well.
"It's too hard to come back against a guy like... a team like that," Armstrong said.
"They're a well-oiled machine right now, they're playing good hockey, they're making simple plays. We were a step behind and they're going to burn us."
Crosby now has 20 goals and 35 points over a 17-game point streak, giving him a massive lead in the NHL's scoring race only 30 games into the season. He's on pace for 71 goals with 26 already, an incredible feat given both Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin have missed time (including this game) with injuries for the Penguins.
He was even asked postgame about the chase for 50 goals in 50 games, an apparent media obsession these days despite the fact there are 50-plus games to go.
"Honestly I think it's pretty far fetched for that to happen," Crosby said. "Maybe someday somebody will and that's unbelievable but I think it's pretty easy not to think about it because I don't see it happening. It would be incredible and whoever does it, hats off, but I don't think it's going to happen."
Tonight's win wasn't exactly a one-man show, but Crosby's effort was certainly one of the big factors, as he didn't back down when challenged early on by Armstrong and the rest of the Leafs, who had vowed to get in the Penguins captain's face prior to the game.
The Leafs denied they gave Crosby and the Penguins too much respect in the game, however, even if that's how it appeared as they stood around watching Pittsburgh make plays in the first 40 minutes.
"It wasn't the way we normally compete," Kris Versteeg said. "I don't know if it was guys were nervous or what. They were moving the puck and moving their feet and we weren't."
Versteeg then tipped his hat to Crosby.
"He's pretty phenomenal," he said. "You give him that much room, he's going to make you look silly and sometimes tonight we gave him the room that we didn't need him to have."
Crosby found it, however, something he's been doing a lot of lately.
"We didn't compete for 40 minutes," Wilson said. "The hole could have been deeper."
The coach was then asked if it was baffling that his team came out so limp after narrowly winning its last two games over Boston and Washington despite getting behind early on.
"Yeah, it is."
And then he walked away.Report Typo/Error