Leafs lose game, Phaneuf

Toronto Maple Leafs Dion Phaneuf is helped off the ice by teammate Carl Gunnarsson and trainers....

Toronto Maple Leafs Dion Phaneuf is helped off the ice by teammate Carl Gunnarsson and trainers. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

With no Dion Phaneuf to jeer and no goals to cheer, the disgruntled throng at the Air Canada Centre obviously figured there was only one thing left to do at the end of the second period.

Boo the Leafs off the ice.

On this particular Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs lost their captain to a deep gash of the left leg, lost their ability to score until the third period, and lost the latest installment in the Battle of Ontario, a 3-2 decision to the rival Ottawa Senators.

Phaneuf was helped off the ice at 6:11 of the second period after his left leg was sliced open when he became tangled with Peter Regin. As he hobbled toward the Leafs dressing room, observers could hear Phaneuf understandably barking to the team's medical staff that he was bleeding badly.

Phaneuf subsequently headed to hospital where doctors were to determine the extent of the injury. However long he might be out, he is not expected to join the team for the Leafs contest against the Washington Capitals Wednesday at the Verizon Center in D.C.

According to coach Ron Wilson, NHL veteran Brett Lebda will now be inserted into the lineup during Phaneuf's absence.

"You can't replace Dion and what he brings to the team," Wilson said. "But other people will have to step up in a leadership role and be vocal and, again, we've got a deep defence, very capable of playing well."

The fans obviously didn't feel that way, especially towards Phaneuf prior to the defenceman's injury.

In fact, Phaneuf was hurt just minutes after Leafs general manager Brian Burke held an impromptu news conference in the first intermission to rip the "small number" of Leafs fans who have been booing Phaneuf recently, adding that the heckling of the captain was "disgusting."

About the only bright spot on this night was the fact that the Leafs finally snapped a scoreless streak of 167 minutes, 39 seconds courtesy of a Francois Beauchemin goal at 5:15 of the third period. Beauchemin's goal was the first by a Toronto player since Phil Kessel scored late in the third period of a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers eight days earlier.

In other words, the Leafs went more than a week between goals.

"We're disappointed, but they're fixable things," Wilson said, referring to the team's offensive funk. "We've got into a little bit of a scoring slump, but in the third period we started coming out of it, and that's a good sign."

Burke claims nothing is on the frontburner when it comes to trades, adding that, for the time being, the team will have to solve its offensive woes "internally." There had been a lot of blogosphere chatter that the likes of Blake Wheeler might be available but that seems to have quieted down for the time being.

As for Nazem Kadri, it does not appear you'll be seeing him in a Leaf jersey any time soon. The Marlies embark on a 10-game road odyssey Wednesday and team officials likely want Kadri to go through that experience.

In fact, Wilson squashed any notion that significant changes were needed at this time.

"Why, after a couple of games in a season would you be contemplating major moves? And what are the major moves that we'd do at this point anyway?," he said.

"We've seen how well we've played. We've generally played very well in every game this year. Like any team in the league (we played) a few you don't deserve to win, but we've lost some we deserved to win."

It's at this point that he appeared to refer to Kadri without ever using the kid's name.

"I wouldn't understand the point of making changes or calling people up from the minors who aren't playing very well down there," Wilson said. "If you'd go to the games, you'd know what we were talking about, what we're seeing.

"It's very easy to speculate, 'Oh he should be up', and the guy's struggling in the American Hockey League." So we're going to be patient and not circumvent the process."

Obviously management has more patience than the fans do right now.


Videos

Photos