Leafs look for good start in Windy City
ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
|Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson yells at referees on the ice in the third period of their NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Toronto Feb. 28, 2012. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)
The Leafs may get away from the catcalls for their coach and the goading of their goaltender here in the Windy City.
But until they put forth a decent effort and start to win again, they can't escape the heat.
Losers of nine of their past 10, in theory the Leafs should catch a break from a struggling Blackhawks team that has lost three in a row and will once again be without captain Jonathan Toews.
But the free-falling Toronto squad can't get anything going, falling into 2-0 holes in each of their previous five games, all of those losses.
While it isn't officially a Ron Wilson watch yet, the venom towards the Leafs coach rang throughout the Air Canada Centre with "fire Wilson" chants late in Tuesday night's 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.
Obviously the players heard it and didn't like it, but it's just another reality of playing in a hockey-mad market fed up with perennially losing teams.
"You get frustrated, but at the same time sometimes I think 'if I was working a 9-to-5 job and I paid that much money to come to the game, I'd be upset too,' " Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur said at the United Center Wednesday afternoon.
"They have all the right to do that. They pay for their seat and it's our job to come out and have a better performance than that."
Having arrived in the Windy City in the wee hours following Tuesday's loss, there was no morning skate for the Leafs but a couple players showed up at the rink for some off-ice workouts.
While a quick start may be too much to ask for a team that figures to be weary, the players are anxious to get back down to business and erase the sour taste of the latest loss.
“Obviously last night was an ugly game to say the least," defenceman Luke Schenn said. "The good thing is we have a chance to get back at it. Obviously with an 82-game schedule, not everything is going to go your way and you have to have a short memory and forget about things, move on.
"It'd be nice to get the lead and get off to a good start. We talked about it last night. It's obviously my fault for the first goal (a glaring giveaway in the Leafs end)."
"When you look up right away at the clock (and see you are down 2-0) in your own building, it's tough to come back from that."
Beleagured goaltender James Reimer will get a break tonight with Jonas Gustavsson getting the start, a move Wilson says has been planned all along.