TORONTO - Ron Wilson didn't mince words when assessing the latest loss turned in by his winless Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We stunk, period," said the Leafs coach after his team was dumped 2-1 by the visiting Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
The best result Toronto has managed through three games this year is an overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on opening night. Just about every facet of the Leafs' game has come under criticism early on and Wilson plans on deploying the oldest remedy in the coaching book at the team's next practice; one that will most certainly not involve pucks.
"Bag skate," Wilson quickly replied when asked what the first step to fixing Toronto's problems is.
While the Leafs' blue-line and goaltending drew fire for allowing 10 goals through the first two games of the year, Wilson was more disappointed with the club's forward crew after the setback versus the Sens. He outlined in no uncertain terms where the shortcomings occurred.
"Playing on the perimeter, not wanting the puck, not willing to take a hit to make a play, jittery when you do have the puck," he said. "We need a much better effort from people we're counting on to put points up."
Wilson wasn't about to let his back end off the hook, either.
Second-year blue-liner Luke Schenn had another rough outing, hauling down Milan Michalek on a play that resulted in Daniel Alfredsson scoring a penalty shot goal. Michalek was cut and temporarily injured by Schenn's illegal takedown after breaking in free on goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
Schenn, now minus-3 on the year, and partner Francois Beauchemin were also on the ice less than a minute earlier when Ottawa opened the scoring. The bench boss offered this take on the youngster's play.
"Luke's got to just plain play better," he said. "He hasn't played as well as he can and he did play well in the second half (of the game).
"After the penalty shot, it was his man who went through and he relaxed and he shouldn't have, and it resulted in a two-minute (penalty) plus a penalty shot and ended up, not Luke, but that moment cost us the hockey game."
As for re-energizing the forward crew, Wilson suggested the solution might go beyond simple line-juggling, hinting there may be some roster movement if things don't change soon.
"We've got to figure out whether it's line combinations, whether it's calling some of the guys up from the minors who provided the spark in the pre-season," he said. "You know there are a few guys who made the team based on last year, not on what they did in training camp and I need to find a away to light the fire under a few guys' rear ends."
Simply put, Wilson felt his team never even entered the fight against its provincial rivals.
"That wasn't a battle of Ontario, by any stretch of the imagination," he said.