Sunday, March 23, 2008

Will the Real Toronto Maple Leafs Please Stand up?

Toronto's record:

1st 53 games of the season: 20-24-9 (13 games below .500)
On pace for a 69 point season
Last 23 games of the season: 15-7-1 (7 games over .500)
On pace for a 111 point season

Just wanted to point out how well the Leafs have played over a pretty decent chunk of the schedule. What could have been? So many should've, could've, would've scenarios to talk about. Over the last quarter of the season, Toronto is on pace to have the best record in the NHL.

What changed?
  • Toskala has started every one of those games.
  • Wozniewski was removed from the lineup.
  • The young kids were brought in and injected energy into the lineup
  • The NTC 5 have stepped and showed that they deserve the big contracts that they were rewarded.
  • Sundin has been HUGE!!! (Mr. Clutch is coming back on Tuesday!)
I think Toronto will go 6-0 from here-on out. Whether or not it's going to be enough to squeak into 8th spot, or take over that familiar and seemingly predestined 9th place spot at this time, only time will tell. This team is playing with heart and emotion, and doing everything they can to will themselves into the playoffs.

Current Pace:
  • Philadelphia - 75 gp, 84 pts, pace: 92 points, potential: 98 pts, 44 wins
  • Boston - 75 gp, 84 pts, pace: 92 points, potential: 98 pts, 44 wins
  • Washington - 76 gp, 82 pts, 88 pts, potential: 94 pts, 43 wins
  • Buffalo - 75 gp, 81 pts, 88 pts, potential: 95 pts, 42 wins
  • Florida - 76 gp, 81 pts, 87 pts, potential: 93 pts, 42 wins
  • Toronto - 76 gp, 80 pts, 86 pts, potential: 92 pts, 42 wins
IF Toronto goes 6-0 from hereon out, they will be very, very close to a playoff spot. They need 5 of the following six to happen:

  • Florida to 5-1 or worse
  • Buffalo to go 5-1-1 or worse (Leafs would win tiebreaker with more wins)
  • Washington to 4-1-1 or worse (Leafs/Caps are 2-2 head-to-head this season, so tiebreaker would come down to goal differential, where the Caps have a -2 to -16 advantage)
  • Boston to go 4-3 or worse (Considering the Leafs play Boston twice, two regulation wins are a must. Toronto would win tiebreaker on wins. It comes down to hoping the Bruins lose at least one more game in their remaining 5)
  • Philadelphia to 4-3 or worse (Toronto would also win tiebreaker here on wins)

It all comes down to Toronto going 6-0. I think this team will refuse to lie down and go silently into that good night. We can't count on Philly losing three of their remaining seven games, but I think the other five are definitely in the realm of high probability. It comes down to Toronto going 6-0. They've shown that they have the heart, determination and talent to get the job done. I know I've been fooled twice by late season heroics that came just a few days too late, but I refuse to not support the team in this playoff run. If they manage to get in, this team is good enough to beat anybody.

My prediction (all based on a hypothetical 6-0 run by the Leafs to end the season):

  • #7 Philadelphia, 93 points (4-2-1 to finish out season)
  • #8 Toronto, 92 points (6-0 baby)
  • #9 Washington, 91 points (They scare me the most - Toronto needs to rely on Carolina to take care of the Caps in 2 remaining games)
  • #10 Buffalo, 91 points (Loss to Leafs and one loss in the three games against the Canadiens or Sens will eliminate the Sabres)
  • #10 Boston, 90 points (Lose two to the Leafs and one against the Sabres)
  • #11 Florida, 89 points (I don't see Florida going 6-0, although they are 8-1-1 in their last 10)