Patience beats panic for Leafs

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:50 PM ET

TORONTO - A year ago with a group of underachieving and at times less than motivated veterans, Leafs coach Ron Wilson often opted for the tough love approach.

With eight consecutive losses, his current team has matched their worst losing streak of last season (the 0-7-1) start and that slump has left them with just 13 points (two more than they had after 16 games last season). Prior to Monday’s games, the Leafs were in 27th place, just two points out of the league basement.

So what has the reaction been? With the young roster that has been struggling lately, Wilson doesn’t see the benefit of getting too fired up.

“Yelling and screaming with a really young group absolutely doesn’t do any good,” Wilson said on Monday. “It creates a lot of anxiousness and nervousness. We’re trying to be calm and practise the things that we have to get better at.

“Without a plethora of great goal-scorers, natural goal-scorers, history of goal-scoring basically on any level, we have to create goals in a scripted sort of way.

“We’ve got to keep harping on going to the ugly areas, the difficult areas in front of the net.”

ARSTRONG’S ITCHIN’

He’s still a couple of weeks away from returning to game action, but Leafs forward Colby Armstrong skated on his own for a half hour prior to Monday’s practice.

Armstrong, who is recovering from surgery on his hand, has missed eight games, all of them Leafs losses in their current slump.

“It’s tough watching,” Armstrong said. “You wish you could be out there battling with the guys. It feels like forever that I’ve been out right now.”

While many believed Armstrong was hurt after a slash in the Oct. 26 game against Florida, the winger told a different story on Monday.

“I went to pass and my tendon popped,” Armstrong said. “I went to roll my hands to pass the puck and my hand just fell off my stick.

“They just had to sew my tendon back down on to my knuckle.”

JIGGY’S FINE

One bad goal — albeit a big one that cost them the game against Vancouver on Saturday — won’t cause Wilson to lose faith in J-S Giguere and he will get the call against Nashville.

“He’s let in bad goals in Stanley Cup playoffs and won an MVP there so he’s mentally tough,” Wilson said.

LOOSE LEAFS

Winger Nazem Kadri figures to be more rested for his second game since being called up. On Saturday, Kadri played his seventh game in 11 nights ... What does 3-0-0 and a 1.00 goals against average get you? If you are Marlies’ goalie Jussi Rynnas, it’s player of the week in the American Hockey League ... Wilson will have Armstrong and captain Dion Phaneuf in the dressing room prior to tonight’s game against the Preds. “I want both in the room before the game as if they were playing,” Wilson said. “They provide a lot of inspiration and (vocal support) before a game that sometimes is lacking with both of them being out.”

— Rob Longley


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