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Leafs at a loss as streak hits seven games

Toronto Maple Leafs Mikhail Grabovski (left) is congratulated by Clarke MacArthur after scoring his team's opening goal against Buffalo Sabres during period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday November 6, 2010.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Chris Young

Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur was asked after tonight's 4-1 loss to the Panthers if he has ever played for a team that struggled so mightily to score.

He drew a blank.

"No, I haven't," he said. "I haven't. It's one of those things where it's like 'oh here we go again.' You get a few chances early and they don't go in and it's like 'here we go.' I think that's just the attitude [on the bench] We've got to get away from that."

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Toronto's losing streak, meanwhile, has gotten so long that some players aren't even sure exactly how long it's been since their last win.

"I mean at times we're all over teams, let's not kid ourselves," defenceman Brett Lebda said. "We're not finding ways to find pucks and put them in the net. And that can wear on you. Especially in an eight, nine-game losing streak, whatever we're on right now. It gets tiring. Mentally draining."

It's been only seven games in a row, but the Leafs also have only one win in their last 11, dating back to Oct. 15 and that heady four-game win streak to start the year. Since that point, goals have been incredibly hard to come by, as Toronto has scored as many over its last 11 games as it did in its first four.

The Leafs' 2.13 goals-per-game average is now far, far lower than the 2.56 per game they averaged last season as one of the six lowest scoring teams in the league.

Coach Ron Wilson continued to put a brave face on the scoring issue after the game, saying the shots and chances are there, and has been strangely positive despite the team's struggles. With his team frustrated and at a new low after these last two losses in Florida, Wilson has backed off, likely feeling that more harsh criticism is the last thing this group needs.

"He's been great," MacArthur said. "I mean he's laid out systems, things are crystal clear. There's no excuses there. He's laid out plays and he's letting us be creative offensively so the lack of scoring isn't coming from there. It's off our own sticks. I mean we've had all the opportunities. We've been getting power plays, getting chances, it's one of those things where it's on the team.

"He demands hard work and if someone's not working, he's going to let them know, but other than that, he's been really positive on the benches. I think he's been great that way."

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MacArthur continued to defend his coach, saying the players should bear the responsibility for the mounting losses.

"It's on our shoulders," he said. "It can't go any further than that. Us as a group in the room, we've got to take care of things and step up and be men."

Knowing how things work in the NHL, however, there's sure to be far more talk of Wilson's role if the team continues to sink in the standings.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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