Leafs forwards in the fire

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:34 PM ET

TORONTO - Coach Ron Wilson is running out of options with the current lineup, and based on changes he orchestrated in the second half of Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Ottawa, it’s expected he’ll have least one new forward combo on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“You’re trying to do different things, but we still didn’t score,” Wilson noted prior to giving the Leafs a day off on Sunday after getting one goal in back-to-back losses. “We’ll watch the tape and decide what we’re going to do.”

Centre Tyler Bozak, who had perhaps the best chance of the night on Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott, looks like he might be headed for the biggest fall, after he appeared with the third and fourth lines in the third period.

“Those things aren’t working to well for me lately,” a glum Bozak said of his close call. “There were a lot of opportunities when we should have bore down, me included. We let those get away and if that’s the case, we’re not going to win games.”

Added Wilson: “I keep saying let’s find a way to relax around the net with some of the chances that we’ve had.

“Historically, the first goal changes everything. The team that scores early relaxes, the other team presses a little bit. If you’re not patient, the 1-0 lead becomes 2-0.

“It’s imperative to be patient, when you get behind in a game early, not to change how you play.”

The Leafs are 2-10-1 when the opposition scores first.

Goals are burke’s goal

Monday marks general manager Brian Burke’s second anniversary as general manager of the Leafs and though he turned down the print media’s request to speak after the game in Ottawa, the challenge for him is clear — get some offence. Toronto’s goal total is only ahead of well documented troubled teams in New Jersey and Long Island. Though the Leafs’ 0-7-1 road streak and 16 away goals in 10 games overall are shocking, Burke can point to a three-game winning streak at the Air Canada Centre entering Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay.

But it won’t take much for the crowd to turn on the Leafs if the Lightning improves its playoff hopes at Toronto’s expense. The Leafs have some injured veteran players returning next month who will help the team’s defence, but they need goals, either from this group, a trade or a callup from the surging AHL Marlies, whose strength also is defensive play.

Stay home, don’t roam

Wilson put veteran Brett Lebda back in the lineup on Saturday in the belief he’d be better under fire than big rookie Keith Aulie. But Wilson wasn’t impressed when Lebda took off in the third period to try to make something happen and the Sens scored on an odd-man rush. It seemed to observers that Lebda’s motive was genuine, to show some slumping forwards to try to drive the net.

“He shouldn’t pinch there,” Wilson argued. “We still have plenty of time to get in the game. That’s not a good decision and it ends up in our net.”

get even with steven

Few on the Leafs know Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos better than Nazem Kadri.

“I’ve played with Stammer a few times in some international tournaments and against him growing up for many, many years,” Kadri said of facing the NHL’s top scorer on Tuesday. “He’s a good friend of mine, but on Tuesday it’s another game, another 60 minutes.”

“He’s a great young player in the game today and if you ask my personal opinion, he’s up there with Sid and Ovie. But hopefully we can shut him down.”


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