Had the Toronto Maple Leafs
won in St. Louis on Thursday night -- or even played a strong game -- there's a good chance they would have been given Friday off as a reward.
Instead, they fell behind 4-0 in what eventually turned into a humiliating 6-3 loss to the Blues
. This came on the heels of their best performance of the season at home the night before, albeit in a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Maple Leafs played a strong defensive game against the Kings, but their old habits and lack of commitment to defence were prevalent against the Blues. Hence, the Leafs were asked to gather at the MasterCard Centre for a little film review.
Toronto left-winger Joffrey Lupul said the video session included some good things the Maple Leafs did against the Kings and some of the "brutal" things they did against St. Louis.
"We took some positives out of the L.A. hockey game from the way we played... especially the way we played in our own end," Lupul said. "Unfortunately it didn't carry over into the St. Louis game."
That is an understatement.
Toronto's string of matchups against top NHL opponents continues Saturday with a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks (CBC, CBCSports.ca
, 6:30 p.m. ET), and then a meeting with the Penguins in Pittsburgh Monday night.
The Leafs departed for St. Louis following the Kings game Wednesday night and didn't arrive until 3 a.m.
Lupul said the team was tired, but did not use that as an excuse for their dreadful play.
"Just because you're not feeling 100 per cent doesn't mean you can't win a hockey game," Lupul said. "In our defensive zone coverage we had some blown assignments that led to goals.
"When we end up with three goals on the road it should be enough to keep you in the hockey game. But when you don't have maybe a 100 per cent energy level it's pretty tough to climb out of a 4-0 hole."Clarkson tries to fire up team
Veteran right-winger David Clarkson tried to rally the troops by engaging in a fight Thursday night, but it didn't work.
Clarkson said the Maple Leafs still have faith they can succeed this year, but it is going to require a change in attitude.
"We know we have to be better and we believe in what we have in here," Clarkson said. "We just have to find a way to put it together because these points are too important. I think we do have something special in this room. we just have to find a way to put it together."
Clarkson said the schedule has not been kind to the Maple Leafs, but it provided them with an opportunity to make a statement. So far, they've failed at it.
"We've played quite a few of the top teams in a row and we want to prove to people that we are one of those top teams," Clarkson said. "The outcome wasn't there against L.A., but I think we showed people what we can do and now we have to get into a routine and get into the habit of doing those good things. This is on us and it's in this locker room. We have to find a way to play batter and to play as one."
While the Maple Leafs currently hold a playoff spot, they are moving in the wrong direction. And even if they do make it to the post-season for the second straight year, they cannot continue to play as poorly as they are and expect to advance beyond the first round.
"We're a long way from the playoffs and, honestly, if we want to do something in the playoffs we have to play a lot better," Lupul said. "The goal is to turn into a top-level team here, not just sneak into that last [playoff] spot."
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