Their fingerprints were all over a clumsy 6-2 loss to the Senators on Tuesday. Missed passes, botched clearing attempts, ineffective checking – you name, they did it. The Leafs get a chance to redeem themselves when they play in Ottawa on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET) and in Montreal on Saturday (7 p.m. ET).
“We’ve all got to get better,” defenceman Bryan McCabe said after practice Wednesday. “(Tuesday) was unacceptable from all of us and we know that.
“We went back to work and worked hard and hopefully it’ll carry over. There’ll be a much better effort.”
The Leafs are in the same position they found themselves in after losing their home opener 4-1 to the Senators. They had to play their next game in Ottawa, and their 6-0 win ruined the home opener in Scotiabank Place.
Darcy Tucker accepts that he’ll be booed lustily for beating up Sens forward Patrick Eaves, who wears a visor and had never dropped the gloves before in an NHL game. But Tucker’s wondering why so much is being made of Tuesday’s dust-up.
“It was a hockey fight,” he said.
Coach Paul Maurice didn’t think the game was particularly rough.
“It was a pretty mild game compared to games (between Ottawa and Toronto) in years gone by,” he said.
Maurice didn’t pull on a military uniform but he did conduct a no-nonsense practice, which the players expected after the travesty of the previous night.
“We’re working, we’re skating, but we’re not executing passes and plays,” said Mike Peca. “We’ve been sloppy.
“We came back (Wednesday) and Paul was more of a drill sergeant. You play like you practise. I’m a firm believer in that, and the fact we were sloppy and a little lackadaisical in our approach to practice over the last week and a half has shown in the games.”
The disturbing aspect of the Leafs’ 4-3-3 record is their woeful home performances. They’ve earned only six of a possible 14 points at Air Canada Centre. They’ve taken five of a possible six points everywhere else.
“Playing at home is something you really need to take advantage of,” said Peca. “Toronto over the years has always been a tough place for teams to play and we’re not making it tough enough for teams to play here.
“We’re coming out with slow starts, which allows teams to build confidence. We’ve got to come out and really drive the pace up the first five or 10 minutes. There are rinks in the league you know the first five or 10 minutes are going to be an all-out battle and we’ve got to establish that at home for us.”
Notes: Mats Sundin’s goal Tuesday moved the Swede into second place among all-time Toronto scorers with 366, one ahead of Dave Keon. Darryl Sittler leads with 389 . . . The Leafs have played 10 games without winning two in a row . . . Nik Antropov is “reasonably close” to returning to the lineup, said Maurice. Antropov participated in his first full practice since injuring his right ankle during training camp . . . Maurice said he didn’t verbally berate any players between periods Tuesday: “They haven’t seen that yet. We’re still at the mild stage.”