Bozak feels Wilson's wrath

Toronto's Colton Orr, left, and New York's Derek Boogaard square off during Thursday's NHL game at...

Toronto's Colton Orr, left, and New York's Derek Boogaard square off during Thursday's NHL game at the ACC. (Veronica Henri/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

TORONTO - Ron Wilson said the Maple Leafs “got what we deserved” on Thursday night and made sure Tyler Bozak did, too.

The first-line centre became the first high-profile player to visit the doghouse when he was sat for almost all of the third period in the 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers.

It wasn’t Bozak’s fault the Leafs looked ill-prepared to play a short-handed Rangers’ team, but with the Leafs coming away with just two goals and one point in a pair of generously spaced-out home games, he caught the flak.

“I didn’t think he was playing well,” Wilson said of Bozak. “So I made some changes toward the end of the second period. (Kris Versteeg slid over from the wing and won all four of his faceoffs on the night with Nikolai Kulemin promoted from the second line.) It shook some things up. It moved Colby Armstrong up (to Kulemin’s spot) and they scored. You don’t stand around and wait.”

Bozak was among several no-shows in the dressing room after the Leafs’ first regulation loss of the season that began with a series of giveaways on defence that weren’t all to do with the Rangers’ hustle.

“We weren’t ready to do the things we needed to do, and our defence was kind of stationary,” Wilson said of the sudden disappearance of quick puck movement.

“We didn’t push the puck ahead and our forwards started to get ahead of the play. In general, they scored two ugly goals and we didn’t do anything until it was too late.

“The Rangers were short (no Marian Gaborik or Chris Drury) and in those circumstances, you hope you get a goal early and they got two. We didn’t want to get our noses dirty coming across the hard areas.

“The last game (a 2-1 overtime loss to the Islanders), we didn’t score 5-on-5 for almost the same reason — we weren’t willing to go to the front.”

Bozak hasn’t scored in six games, while Kris Versteeg missed his second straight third period breakaway that would have made a huge difference in regulation.

Until Armstrong’s goal with 8:56 to play, first-line right winger Phil Kessel had scored the past three goals stretching back to last week’s game in Manhattan.

Wilson had said earlier in the day he was not going to get too concerned where the offence came from as long as it kept flowing.

Toronto now heads to Philadelphia on Saturday where they were outscored 9-3 last season.

Thursday marked the first time Toronto has trailed 2-0 this year.

“That’s the first time we didn’t play the way we wanted,” Armstrong said. “They had the puck a lot tonight and we were chasing.”

It was also a game that showcased the best attributes of the Leafs’ new look defence — and its warts.

There was Dion Phaneuf’s high risk, high reward forays into New York’s zone, Tomas Kaberle’s lack of physicality and the sometimes rocky Mike Komisarek-Brett Lebda pairing.

As long as Toronto keeps the puck moving, as it has in most games, it avoids most dangerous situations.

“It’s just not having foot speed, it’s puck speed,” Wilson reminded in the morning. “A team like the Red Wings, you might be faster (than them), but they can move the puck faster. The game is incredibly quick when you play the Wings and you want to some day get to that spot.”

Yesterday was not that day.

The first period was fraught with five giveaways by the Leafs. Lebda was charged with two. Francois Beauchemin was beaten to a puck at the Ranger line by Derek Stepan, caught his man, but the Ranger still managed to get the puck on net where Jonas Gustavsson lost it in traffic and Ruslan Fedotenko jammed it in.

Instead of that jolting Toronto to life, it let its guard down again a minute later when the Rangers beat the Leafs in their zone and Michal Rozsival fired cross ice where Artem Anisimov brushed off Kaberle and tipped it in.

During that shaky first, the Leafs were 0-for-3 on the power play, including a great chance to regain momentum when the unpredictable Sean Avery took a slashing minor right after his team’s second strike.

Martin Biron came close to recording the first shutout by a Ranger at the ACC and first in Toronto since Glenn Healy was their stopper in 1996. He made 24 saves to Gustavsson’s 30.


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