TORONTO -- Dion Phaneuf admits he made a mistake. Cam Talbot Jersey . The Toronto captain said Thursday he erred in not talking to reporters following the Maple Leafs 5-3 home loss Tuesday night to the St. Louis Blues. Phaneuf was widely criticized for blowing off the media following the clubs sixth straight loss that dropped it to 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. "I shouldve been available, thats about all Im going to say about it," the veteran defenceman said following Thursdays practice. "I cant remember the last time I didnt make myself available but I shouldve been available." On Wednesday, a day off for the Leafs, Phaneuf told a Toronto all-sports radio station he didnt talk because he was too emotional following the loss. "I just didnt play well enough," he said. "Bottom line, I wasnt even close to the level I have to play at. "I accept responsibility for that. I will be better." Phaneuf and his teammates dont have time to fret about their respective situations. Toronto visits the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night in one of just eight regular-season games remaining for the Leafs. The contest is important for both teams. Philadelphia (38-37-7, 83 points) is sixth in the Eastern Conference heading into action Thursday night. Toronto (36-30-8, 80 points) is tied in points with Columbus, Detroit and Washington, but all three clubs having games in hand on the Leafs. With each mounting loss, the Leafs find themselves increasingly under the media microscope in Toronto. There was no shortage of TV cameras and media at Thursdays practice. "If you look back two weeks ago we werent having to answer these questions, but the reality is were where were at right now," Phaneuf said. "We havent won in six games and when you dont win hockey games there are questions asked and theres every right to ask those questions because its our job to win games. "Im not going to stand here and say weve played well, we havent. I know right now it seems were at a low point but well come through it." And for head coach Randy Carlyle, the turnaround wont come about by continually harping on how tight the Leafs have played during the streak. "The more you talk about it, the more you focus on the tightness the harder it is to flush," he said. "We have to be prepared to look at the positives that are in the hockey game, the things weve done well and not focus on the negatives. "Pressure comes from within, comes from outside, it comes from everywhere. I think the amount of pressure you put on yourself to perform is really and truly who you have to answer to." But Carlyle didnt sugar-coat Torontos current situation, either. "We feel theres a lot of areas in which there are some positives but you cant look past weve lost six in a row," he said. "Bottom line, theres no other way to say it. "We cant feel good about ourselves but we have to prepare ourselves to play the best game of the year (Friday)." Toronto could have defenceman Paul Ranger back Friday. Ranger left a 5-3 home loss to Tampa Bay on March 19 on a stretcher with a neck brace after being hit by Lightning forward Alex Killorn. "I feel pretty good but Ive got to talk to the trainers and doctors and see if they can clear me to play," Ranger said. "I think its just a combined decision (Friday). "If I can help in any way Im going to and I plan on it. I had some encouraging words from teammates and trainers saying, We could use you back. It felt pretty good. Im excited to get back into a game and contribute as much as I can." Carlyle would consider playing Ranger in Philadelphia if the defenceman was cleared medically. "He looked good (Thursday)," Carlyle said. "As soon as the player tells us, then we have an option." Toronto has been plagued by poor starts over its losing streak, something Carlyle says gives the opposition an advantage. "It seems like were chasing the game and when you chase the game you have to open up and that gives the team youre playing against more opportunities," he said. "Its tough enough when youre on an even keel . . . especially at this time of year. "The bottom line is we have to find a way to start better and continue it." Forward Phil Kessel agreed. "It helps to get the first goal," he said. "Youre up one instead of being down one or down two. "Its tough to come back in this league." Given the intense media glare in Toronto, forward Nazem Kadri said its hard for the Leafs not to feel pressure to win. "When you drop six straight its definitely hard to focus on other things," he said. "Weve had some meetings and understand this is desperation time. "We have to play for our lives so we have to go start acting like it." Defenceman Cody Franson said the Leafs psyche remains solid. "I think were in a good spot," he said. "Obviously weve been through a tough stretch here but . . . were very aware of our situation and we all want to do the right things to get this back on the right foot. "Were aware of what we have to do. We dont feel sorry for ourselves, weve played well in a lot of games and done a lot of good things and were going to build on that." Toronto returns to the Air Canada Centre on Saturday versus Detroit, the first of four straight home games. After facing Calgary (Tuesday), Boston (Thursday) and Winnipeg (April 5), the Leafs will end the regular season with road games against Tampa, Florida and Ottawa. "Its not like were out of a playoff position," defenceman Jake Gardiner said. "Were in a decent spot, we can still compete for those last two spots and just see what happens. "Yeah, theres always that pressure . . . but we know we have a good team in here and we know we can do it. Its just a matter of playing the way we know we can." Connor McDavid Jersey . 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