Leafs look to end winless streak in Vancouver

Nothing is ever won in October in the National Hockey League.

The Toronto Maple Leafs can sleep soundly knowing that much.

But the fact the team remains the only NHL franchise still without a win has to be keeping them up at night.


For the first time in a week, Toronto (0-6-1) will have another crack at ending their losing skid, sitting at seven, when they begin a five-game road trip against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.


“We’ve got to go out and win a hockey game,” Leafs forward Matt Stajan said. “We’re focused and we know it’s a big road trip for us.


“We want to come back home feeling good about ourselves.”


Vancouver (4-5-0) downed Chicago 3-2 Wednesday night on the road and is riding a three-game home winning streak heading into the tilt against the Leafs.


After falling to the Blackhawks in the playoffs last season, it was a huge confidence booster for Vancouver.


“It means a lot to the group, everybody knows we hadn’t won on the road and this was a good win,” forward Mikael Samuelsson said. “We struggled a little bit, but once again we came back from their lead, so that was huge.”


The win also marked Robert Luongo’s first victory on the road since Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal in Chicago.


Vancouver took last season’s series between the clubs 2-0, winning both in Toronto last February and at home in November.


These Maple Leafs are one loss away from redefining the club’s worst start in their history. The 1990-91 team started their season with one tie and six losses before defeating the Blackhawks.


With the team travelling with four goaltenders, Toronto’s rookie netminder Jonas Gustavsson, who practiced pain-free Thursday, believes there is a slim chance he could play against the Canucks.


“It’s hard to say,” he said. “I think I need a couple more practices.


“But if your coach wants you to play, you always have to be ready …  That’s why you play hockey at this level, you can’t say no to something like that.”


In his first and only start this season, the Swede stopped 26 of 28 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.


There is also speculation leading into the match that Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn could be a healthy scratch for the game.


A minus-5 thus far into his second year, the blueliner saw just three shifts in the third period in Toronto’s last game and was left out of practice on Thursday.


“We’ve had a rough start on defence,” Schenn told reporters earlier this week. “It seems like every mistake we make it doesn’t end positively.”


Leafs head coach Ron Wilson inserted Ian White into the practice lineup in Schenn’s place, but did not speak to the press following the run-through to confirm Schenn’s status.


About this article

By: Luke Barry
Posted: Oct 23 2009 9:49 pm
Filed under: Hockey Sports