In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, Leafs assistant GM Dave Poulin was adamant that the team's recent struggles have been an outlier and that a spell of inconsistency over the span of 13 days would not cause Toronto management to alter their course.
“This is 13 days," Poulin said. "It's remarkable. Its eight games in 13 days, that's what all this has taken place in. We've been working at this for four-plus years – you're not going to let 13 days change that. A lot of good things have happened as well and a lot of good things are going in the right direction.
“It's not necessarily systematic breakdowns, its individual breakdowns,” Poulin said, noting the Leafs still have “a good hockey team and we've played really well at points” and just need “to win a hockey game and get a little momentum.”
Asked whether the Toronto's collapse could have been predicted due to their poor defensive play -- most notably with their issues related to shot differential and possession numbers -- Poulin remained skeptical, saying that despite playing better during the losing streak, they simply haven't gotten any results.
“I don't think it is,” Poulin said, backing up his comments by saying he thought teams were shooting more on the Leafs because they know the team gives up a high number of shots.
In reference to whether he thought the team's leadership should be called into question considering veteran players like Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf have been present for what could be the third straight year Toronto has finished the season on the heels of a disastrous collapse, Poulin said management, “may have to very well evaluate it,” but thought this season is an outlier.
“I don't see a similarity between a seventh game and three-to-four minutes in the last stretch of the game to an eight game losing streak.” Poulin said when asked about the comparison between this year's team and Toronto's three-goal meltdown in the third period of Game 7 versus the Bruins.
In terms of the criticism Dion Phaneuf has received, Poulin said the team needs to build around the Leaf captain.
“We evaluate it, but we also try to build around him,” Poulin said, relating Phaneuf's situation to his own career in Philadelphia.