Coach makes a point

Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice yells at his players to get the puck moving during drills as part of...

Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice yells at his players to get the puck moving during drills as part of an intense workout yesterday. (Toronto Sun/Michael Peake)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

About the only good thing for the Maple Leafs about having their coach yell at them for close to an hour yesterday was knowing that how often it happens is in their control.

Approximately 14 hours after his club was humiliated by the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday, an intense Paul Maurice barked orders and dropped more than a few profanities to make his point during practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena.

Later, his players said it was exactly what they needed.

"Paul was more t he drill sergeant," Michael Peca said. "I think any team needs that. There is nobody to blame but ourselves for the way we have played in the past week and a half."

Said Darcy Tucker: "He got his point across. That's the repercussions of not doing what we needed to do."

Maurice knows he will have to pick his spots. If he keeps yelling at his players, something that happened once in a blue moon under former coach Pat Quinn, they're going to tune him out, and quickly.

"It's not a matter of how you are going to get your p o i nt ac r o s s ," Maurice said. "It is a matter of how many times you are going to have to make that point."

It's somewhat surprising the Leafs have made it this far without Maurice blowing his stack. Though Toronto has 11 points in 10 games, it has won just twice on home ice. If anything, the bloom is coming off the rose. Any club with a pulse will enjoy a resurgence under a new coach, but then reality often hits once old habits start resurfacing. Now comes the challenge for Maurice to remove such habits. Forget about talking about competing harder and being in better shape. The Leafs have to walk the walk.

For Peca, who has been around the National Hockey Leag ue block a few t i mes, there are signs of concern.

"We are sloppy in areas of practice and it has shown in our games," Peca said. "We have been a little lackadaisical in our preparation and it has shown. We have been inconsistent in every game we have had.

"Everybody at the start of the year was a little fearful in practice. We knew we had to come a nd work ha rd bec au se we all demanded that. We just seem to be a lit t le comfor t able i n t he last little while. We have to live life with a little humility."

Perhaps that will start tonight at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa when t he Lea fs a nd Senators hook up for the back half of a home-andhome set. Maurice refused to say whether he would make lineup changes, but it would be ha rd not to t in ker a bit after such a bad performance. Defenceman Jay Harrison and forward Alexander Suglobov are waiting patiently. Maur ice pu l led goa lie A ndrew Raycroft on Tuesday after two periods, and it likely would be a blow to the latter's confidence to not get back in tonight.

The Leafs, who have won two of three on the road, play five of their next six away from the ACC . Putting some energy back into the Battle of Ontario, and not with fists, would go a long way with their coach. "To a man we can be better and we know that," forward Matt Stajan said. "I think you will see a different team (tonight)."


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