The Maple Leafs realize they don't have much choice but to start pulling up their socks tonight against the Florida Panthers.
While there may be an inclination to say the season remains young, which it does, the Leafs can't afford to keep their inconsistency alive. They're in what many consider the toughest division in the NHL and are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 12 points.
Clubs such as the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres have been a surprise. Few picked them to be playoff teams, but they're all ahead of Toronto.
"Call it a sense of urgency or whatever, but it has always been there as far as developing a team," coach Pat Quinn said. "We were pretty cocky a week and a half ago. Maybe (the lopsided loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday) will help wake guys up a little bit about where they are.
"You have to be mindful of the other guys and what they are doing, but you have to pay attention to your own process of building a team."
Quinn said he is not concerned about Ed Belfour, who sports an ugly 3.79 goals-against average and an .876 save percentage.
"Trying to identify where we need to get better, Iwould not be starting by saying we need to get better in goal," Quinn said.
MORE TESTS FOR MATS
Captain Mats Sundin was scheduled to have further tests on his left eye today.
"We might get that clear instruction as to his practising with the team," Quinn said. "There is no way of really estimating how much we miss him."
Former Leaf Gary Roberts watched some of the Leafs' brutal effort against Ottawa and is worried what it could mean for his Panthers tonight.
"Playing a few years here, I know what we were like after a loss like that, especially at home," Roberts said.
"I know they are going to come out hungry and they have a lot of character in that room. There's no doubt it is not the ideal situation to be coming in and playing Toronto after a loss like that. We are going to have to have our best game to win."