Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Suglobov and Bell Start Tonight!

It's do-or-die time for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mid-way through the year, the Leafs were sitting comfortably in 5th place in the Eastern Confernce, 9 games above .500, destined for a playoff post. On January 7th, the Leafs were 24-15-3. Then, the rails came off the tracks. The Leafs lost 7 straight games, and managed to win only 5 games over a 22 game stretch, falling to below .500 for perhaps the first time since Pat Quinn became the coach back in '97-98.

In the past 7 games, Toronto is 4-3. They're playing better, and are receiving consistant goaltending from Tellqvist. With 15 games left, they are going to have to do better than that. Toronto is going to have to go 12-3, or at least 11-4, for a chance to slip into the final playoff spot.

This is perhaps the most important week of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have a tough opponent tonight, in the high-flying Carolina Hurricanes. Montreal, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay all picked up points last night. Tonight, Montreal, New Jersey, Atlanta, the New York Islanders all play, so the Leafs desperately need a win tonight to keep up the pace. The injection of youth into the lineup (Ondrus, Bell and Suglobov) is sure to energize a Leafs lineup that is playing hungry for the first time in recent memory.

On Thursday and Saturday, Toronto plays two road games in Montreal -- HUGE. If Toronto can win both of those games, and pull 4 points closer to the Montreal Canadians, they will be right back into the thick of the playoff race.

A quick look at the Eastern Conferance Playoff Race:

6. Tampa Bay 69 77 (13 Games Remaining)
7. New Jersey 67 76 (15 Games Remaining)
8. Montreal 67 73 (15 Games Remaining)
9. Atlanta 68 72 (14 Games Remaining)
10. Toronto 67 68 (15 Games Remaining)
11. Florida 68 67 (14 Games Remaining)
12. NY Islanders 67 66 (15 Games Remaining)