TORONTO - Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson doesnít put too much credence in statistics. At least thatís what he told the media after his teamís optional pre-game skate on Monday morning.
One of the stats Wilson was specifically bringing into question was the abysmal 221 giveaways the Leafs had recorded for the season after their 2-0 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday night. That number puts them down at the bottom of the league.
But Wilsonís not buying it.
ďItís such an arbitrary number from building to building,Ē Wilson said as the Leafs (7-9-3) prepared to face Brad Richards and the Dallas Stars (10-7-1) at the Air Canada Centre.
ďIn some buildings, you end up with six hits and count 35 yourself. It all depends on whoís marking hits, giveaways, and takeaways. The only thing that is relatively accurate is time on ice. And even face-offs, you can debate those Ö So we keep a lot of those statistics ourselves. I donít think the numbers are exactly relevant.Ē
Still itís hard to argue with the fact that a Mike Komisarek giveaway in front of his own net in Montreal put the nail in the Leafsí coffin. And if not for a red-hot power play, the Leafs easily could have lost to the Predators earlier in the week. Three Toronto turnovers, two deep in its own end by Mikhail Grabovski, and one just outside the blue line, led to three Nashville goals.
And you certainly canít lay any blame on Jonas Gustavsson (2-4-1, 2.48 GAA), who will be making his third straight start tonight in place of injured No. 1 J-S Giguere, sidelined with groin issues.
Gustavsson made 37 saves in Montreal and was named the first star in a 3-1 victory over New Jersey on Thursday night.
ďHeís played great. He kept us in the game in Montreal in the first period. If it hadnít been for him and his stellar play, it could have been three, four nothing for them,Ē forward Fredrik Sjostrom said after the morning skate.
So the Leafs, who have managed two goals or fewer four times in Gustavssonís seven starts, are going to have to cut down on the giveaways and find a way to put the puck in the net if they want to beat Dallas ó which has recorded three straight road losses ó and win for the third consecutive time at home.
ďObviously, if you turn the puck over on your blue line or on the offensive blue line, the other teams are going to take advantage of that,Ē Sjostrom said. ďAnd it makes it a lot harder (to win) when the other team gets their transition game going.Ē
Stars centre Brad Richards on rumours the Leafs are interested in acquiring him: ďIím not going to lie to you. The situation is what it is. Itís not something that isnít talked about and itís not something that (general manager) Joe (Nieuwendyk) and I havenít talked about ... Iím a Dallas Star and thatís where my focus is right now.Ē
Leafs defenceman and Saskatoon native Luke Schenn on the Roughriders making another trip to the Grey Cup: ďIím a huge fan, like most in Saskatchewan. I think Rider Nation in Saskatchewan means about as much as Leafs Nation in Toronto, so itís a pretty big deal out there.Ē
Leafs coach Ron Wilson on the lack of Leafs goal production: ďYou canít control the way the other teamís goalie plays. Can we get a little more traffic (in front of opposing nets)? Yeah. Can we maybe dig in a little harder around the net? Probably.Ē