Leafs not sweating the losses

The Toronto Maple Leafs bench and fans (background) react after the Vancouver Canucks scored an...

The Toronto Maple Leafs bench and fans (background) react after the Vancouver Canucks scored an empty net goal in the dying moments of their NHL hockey game in Toronto November 13, 2010. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill0

DAVE HILSON,QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:50 PM ET

TORONTO - Kris Versteeg has been there before and he’s not panicking.

In fact, there didn’t seem to be any panic in the Leafs dressing ahead of their game with the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

You would think eight straight losses and four consecutive at home would be enough to make anybody sweat, but up and down the line, the Leafs were a pretty optimistic bunch heading into their Air Canada Centre clash with Nashville.

“I’ve been through it (before), whether it’s at the pro or amateur level. I think everybody in here has seen both ends of it. It’s nothing new to any of us. We know what we need to do and it’s really just rally around each other, which we have done, and come out with a great effort tonight,” Versteeg said after the Leafs’ morning skate, back on after having been cancelled Saturday.

Versteeg suggested a back-to-basics policy would best suit the Leafs (5-8-3) in their quest to end their current funk.

“We’ve said it before, you have to go back to basics and really get back to what makes you successful. I think throughout the losing streak, we’ve had games where we did go back to the basics, went back to what we were doing in the first four games (which they won). I think a bounce here or there goes the wrong way, but we really have to feed off that game against Vancouver,” said Versteeg, referring to a 5-3 loss to the Canucks on Saturday night.

There were some positives to take away from that game — which the Leafs were in the thick of until goalie J-S Giguere let in a Raymond Mason softie at 13:36 of the third — including Phil Kessel ending a seven-game point drought with a goal and Mikhail Grabovski potting another one.

Toronto will be heading into the game with Nashville (7-5-3), a team that has dropped four of five on the road, with the same lineup as Saturday. Marlies call-ups Nazem Kadri and Keith Aulie are back in, as is Giguere, who is 4-5-2 and has given up four goals in each of his past two starts.

“Right now, don’t focus on the results, focus on the process,” coach Ron Wilson said of the team’s philosophy in dealing with the slump. “If you do all the little things well, then you improve your chances of the results you want.”

Quick Hits:

•Leafs coach Ron Wilson on the team’s current losing streak: “I don’t read the paper or watch sports (talk shows), or listen to talk radio, but yes you do question everything you do, you’re human. But it’s not what other people are thinking, it’s what you are thinking yourself.”

•Leafs forward Kris Versteeg on hard-firing Predators defenceman Shea Weber: “Just please don’t hit me in the foot. I’d say he’s got the hardest shot in the league, him or (Zdeno) Chara.”

•Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn on team’s current losing streak: “It’s not very fun to be losing all the time and it puts you in a brutal mood outside the rink, too.”

•Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur on tonight’s game: “I thought we had the right plan last game (against Vancouver). We had a good start, we just gave up a two-goal lead way too easily. We just have to come out with the same kind of jump. That’s what you want, to be up 2-0 with 10 minutes left in the first.”


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