Preacher Quinn rallies the flock

Leaf coach Pat Quinn chomps on his stogie in this file photo. (SUN/Fred Thornhill)

Leaf coach Pat Quinn chomps on his stogie in this file photo. (SUN/Fred Thornhill)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

Making certain that his voice was loud enough to be heard, Pat Quinn's Sunday morning sermon echoed throughout every nook and cranny of Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday.

And by the time it was over, each member of the Maple Leafs should have seen the light contained in the words of their emotional coach.

Thou shall not blow any more late leads.

Thou shall not continue to consistently screw up when it comes to defensive zone coverage.

And thou shall not keep misfiring on the power play.

"Of course, we have to be mindful that we're not completely horse(bleep)," he said.

Whether his players actually took his advice to heart will be put to the test tonight at the Corel Centre against the high-flying Ottawa Senators, who are coming off a 5-0 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Quinn is most frustrated at the flushing away of potential victories because of gaffes in the Leafs' own end.

The team easily could have headed to the nation's capital yesterday afternoon with four points instead of just one.

But the Leafs coughed up a 2-1 advantage with just 62 seconds left in regulation in the season opener against the Sens, a game the visitors would win 3-2 in a shootout.

Three days later, a 4-3 lead over the Montreal Canadiens disappeared in the final eight minutes resulting in a 5-4 win for the Habs.

"That's the disappointing part," Quinn said. "For all our goofs, I don't want to play all night to win and then watch it disappear in the end.

"In two games (the opposition) has scored three tap-in goals. That's bad play on our part away from the puck."

At times Leafs defenders appear to be reluctant to use the body on opposing forwards for fear that they might be penalized under the NHL's new anti-obstruction rules.

"I tried to tell them that contact is allowed, you just can't hold the guy," Quinn said. "You also have to keep your stick on the ice.

"If we are backing off it means we don't want the puck, which makes it tough."

Quinn is not yet ready to pull the trigger on the beleaguered defence pairing of Wade Belak and Aki Berg, who were a combined minus-6 against the Canadiens.

"I don't want to jerk guys around," Quinn said. "Right now we're trying to build confidence in the dressing room, which in some cases is waning. I don't want to strip them of any more.

"They know they were bad, so I don't want them wondering if they have lost the (trust) of the coach. They should know they will get another chance."

A 2-for-17 power play is another concerning stat for Quinn, who claims not enough Leafs are moving their feet when the team is enjoying the man advantage.

"It's definitely something we have to work on," forward Eric Lindros said. "Sometimes our entries into the zone are pretty good but the puck movement isn't. At other times we just have problems getting it in there."


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