Limping Leafs try to break nasty slump as offence continues to sputter

Mike Babcock talks to the media about how the Toronto Maple Leafs need to stay motivated as they start the final 34 games of the NHL season.

TORONTO — P.A. Parenteau doesn’t remember a time he played better without actually scoring.

The Toronto forward is currently mired in a 10-game goalless drought – his longest as a member of the Maple Leafs. He’s one of many players struggling to score as Toronto endures its second major slide of the season.

The Leafs, who return to action following the all-star break on Tuesday in Boston, have scored just 11 goals in losing nine of their past 10 games (1-7-2). They’ve scored one or less on seven of those nights and were shut out for the seventh time in 48 games in their last outing, a 1-0 defeat in Tampa.

“We’re making things happen and we’re not scoring so that’s kind of hard to swallow,” said Parenteau, who has 11 goals this season for the Leafs. “(But) that tells you something – that you’ve got to keep doing it.”

Parenteau thinks the Leafs are suffering from a bit of bad luck, as they’re scoring on less than four per cent of their shots during the dry spell. They had similar problems finishing during their last skid in October, when they averaged two goals a game in losing nine of 10 to start the regular season.

“I think our scoring chances for, we’ve had a lot of them and we don’t finish,” said Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. “We’ve had tons on the power-play, we don’t finish. We’ve got to figure out a way to score goals to win. We went through this early. Now we’ve got to continue to work hard and fight through it.”

Parenteau is one among many Leafs without much offensive success recently.

Leo Komarov, Toronto’s lone representative at the all-star game in Nashville and the team’s unlikely scoring leader this season, has just one goal in the past 18 games. Tyler Bozak, tied for second on the team with 29 points, hasn’t scored in 14 games. Daniel Winnik has gone 18 straight without scoring. Byron Froese, the Leafs fourth line centre, has just one goal all season.

Peter Holland, tied for the team lead in power-play points, hasn’t scored in an even-strength situation in 18 consecutive games.

Unlike Parenteau, Holland and Froese don’t believe misfortune has much to do with the goal-scoring funk.

“I don’t think luck has anything to do with it. I think you’ve got to work harder to get your bounces,” Froese said. “Maybe we’re not getting enough guys in front of the net. Maybe the goalies are seeing too much.”

“At the end of the day, for me, it evens out,” added Holland.

And indeed, in reeling off eight wins in 12 games (8-2-2) before this recent slide, the Leafs scored nearly four times per game.

The club, which at full-strength lacks much offensive firepower, has been missing perhaps their best player and top provider of offence. James van Riemsdyk, who remains tied for second in goals (14) and points (29) despite missing the past eight games, has been sidelined with a broken left foot. He won’t be back until March.

Meanwhile, the Leafs’ power-play unit has gone of nine straight games without a goal, and has just two goals in 49 opportunities over the past 15 games.

Babcock said the Leafs could use more bodies sprinkled around the front of the net and more second-chance opportunities – the kind the group pounced on with some success in November and December. He said the group made an effort at improving in such areas during an hour-long practice on Monday.

“I just believe if you do things right every day then you’re going to get results and it’s going to come,” Froese said. “Whether it’s now or a month from now, who knows.”

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