Cheering for good results

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller (left, being congratulated by Thomas Vanek) recorded...

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller (left, being congratulated by Thomas Vanek) recorded consecutive shutouts Wednesday and Thursday, lifting his team one spot ahead of the Maple Leafs in the eastern conference standings. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images/AFP)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:42 PM ET

If there's one thing NHLers hate doing this time of year, it's scoreboard watching.

Unfortunately, there's no escape from it for the Maple Leafs, who have to plot the daily progress of the teams ahead of them for eighth place and closing fast behind them.

"It's getting to that time of year now," a glum Joffrey Lupul said Friday morning after Buffalo nudged the Leafs from 10th to 11th in the Eastern Conference.

"Now is the time to start rooting against some teams. It's not a fun thing to do, because teams don't seem to lose that often down the stretch. Last year, we were winning four out of every five games (after Feb. 1) and gaining no ground.

"Right now (Saturday against the Habs) we have to focus on one win."

The Habs, who have been last in the conference for a few games, stopped their losing streak on Thursday.

"It's not going to be fun losing," goalie Carey Price said. "So we have to enjoy all the wins that we can get."

KEEPING THE FAITH

P.K. Subban says the Canadiens have taken their minds off the standings by looking at short-term goals and matters that they can control.

"Individually, guys have to want to be part of the turnaround," Subban said. "Guys have some individual things that may motivate them. We have 18 games left to show we can be a great team. For guys who want to be first line or first unit (defence and special teams), this is a great time show it.

"Now we have one win under our belts (Thursday against Minnesota), we just want to keep it going."

Toronto devoted a long portion of its practice on Friday to boxing enemy forwards out and sealing off the slot. It's the kind of detail that has been sorely missed by the Leafs in the past six games.

"We always talk about looking in the mirror on a losing streak," centre David Steckel said.

LOOSE LEAFS

Toronto tried a little bonding action on Thursday night. The whole team went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Montreal ... So what did Price think of the finish of the Habs' 5-4 win against Minnesota, when he gave up three late goals and won in a shootout? "It was pretty wild," he said, not pardoning the pun.


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