February 12, 2011
Wilson: Early goals key in beating Habs
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
MONTREAL — Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson appreciates the fired-up atmosphere when two Original Six rivals meet at the Bell Centre on a Saturday night as much as the next hockey guy.
All the more reason for his team not to fall into its horrible habit of giving up the first goal when they face the Montreal Canadiens.
“If we want to be successful here, number one we’ve got to take the crowd out by not giving up a soft goal in the first 10 minutes of the game,” Wilson said following his team’s morning skate.
“I don’t mean our goaltending. I mean making a costly giveaway that leads to a goal.
“We have to play a smart road game. The Canadiens feed so well off their fans and we want to make sure we neutralize that. You prefer wherever you are on the road not to be under the gun in the first 10 minutes, but this team feeds off the crowd more than any team in the league.”
The Habs figure to be hungry as well as they look to avoid their first four-game losing streak since December, 2009.
The Leafs, meanwhile are hoping to remain on the fringes of the playoff race. A strong run since the All-Star Break has the Leafs on the edges of the final spot in the Eastern Conference as they enter Saturday’s play eight points behind eighth-place Atlanta.
“I think we need to be thinking one game at a time not worrying who our opponent is in two or three days time,” said Leafs goaltender J-S Giguere who will get the start in his hometown in front of family and friends.
“We have to worry tonight about the Canadiens and try to get two points and move on and see where we are in the standings.
“But I firmly believe if we keep playing well like this we’ll give ourselves a chance and that’s all we can ask for.”
The feature game of CBC’s Hockey Day In Canada, the Leafs and Canadiens meet for the fourth of six times this season with the Leafs having a 2-1 edge thus far.
The Leafs will be without forward Colby Armstrong who is expected to miss a crucial week featuring three divisional matches after suffering an eye injury.
That means Freddie Sjostrom will return to the lineup skating on a line with Darryl Boyce and Kris Versteeg.