TORONTO — Toronto Maple Leafs rookie defenceman Luke Schenn saw some of the NHL’s less glamourous side on Saturday night.
Two days after the Leafs upset the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Detroit Red WIngs, by a score of 3-2 to open the 2008-09 NHL regular season, Toronto was trounced 6-1 in its home opener by the Montreal Canadiens.
"You never want to lose a home opener like that, or any game like that," said the 18-year-old Schenn, whom the Leafs selected fifth overall in last June’s NHL entry draft.
The six-foot-two, 216-pound native of Saskatoon had a few scrambly moments in his own zone against the speedy Habs in the early going, but appeared to grow more comfortable as the game progressed.
"It wasn’t our young players who laid an egg tonight," said Leafs coach Ron Wilson, "it was some of our older guys. I think (Mikhail) Grabovski and Luke Schenn were a couple of our better guys tonight."
Wilson backed up his words by playing Schenn for 20 minutes and 23 seconds, third among the Leafs’ defencemen, including nearly three minutes when the Leafs were shorthanded. Granted, the Habs went 3-for-8 on the power play, but Schenn was only on the ice for one goal against. Schenn wasn’t on the ice for any goals against at even strength either and finished the night with an even plus/minus rating. The Leafs other five blue-liners were all minus-1 or minus-2.
"We have to be better, we need to support the puck better and forecheck better," said Schenn, who contributed two shots, three hits and a blocked shot on the scoresheet. "If you take a shift off, it could cost you and your team. That’s one of the things I’ve learned in the NHL, you always have to be on your game."
Schenn also learned what it’s like to play a regular season game at the Air Canada Centre.
"It was awesome, it was pretty cool," he said of skating out onto the ice when his name was announced prior to the game. "It was exciting to be part of the home opener."
Schenn and the Leafs host the St. Louis Blues on Monday afternoon at ACC.
"Learn from your mistakes and go back to work the next day and have a good practice," said Pavel Kubina when asked how the young Leafs should handle Saturday night’s loss. "Go get ready for a good game on Monday against St. Louis."