The trends that this years version of the Toronto Maple Leafs have exhibited so far are interesting ones. The team has a great record on the road and a mediocre one on the road. They also seem to be winning the "should win" games, something that they have not been able to do in the last few years. The trend that is a major concern to me is their inability to show up in the most important games this year.
The last time the Leafs and Sens met in Ottawa there were major points on the line. Both teams were tied with 22pts and I shouldn't have to mention that they are supposed to be bitter division rivals. The buds came out with a weak effort, but were lucky to be tied with less than a minute to go. Long-story-short, they blew the game with only seconds left and got 0 points out of it.
The next big game was against Montreal at the ACC the following Wednesday night. The Habs were ahead of the Buds in the standings by 3 points and a win could have helped them keep pace with the hot Canadiens. This was another heated division rival who the Leafs pounded both on the score board (6 - 0) and physically the last time they had met. This was an opportunity to make a statement, but again the team came out flatter than a crepe run over by a steam roller, and lost in regulation 5 - 2.
Monday's game againt the Devils was a big game. It was not against a division rival, and the team was without Brodeur and a couple of other key players, but it was a big game. The Devils were 1 point behind the Leafs for 5th place in the East. Again, the boys in blue came out flat, but somehow they managed to wake up in time for a three goal period winning 4 - 2. It was a start.
Tonight there is a chance for the Maple Leafs to buck the trend and beat the Sens at the ACC in a 4 point game. Both teams have played 23 games and have 28 points. A regulation win will give the victorious team sole possesion of 5th place in the East and a step up in the division. This Sens team is closer to the Binghamton version than the Ottawa version right now, and the Buds cannot afford to miss this opportunity. It looks like there will not be any line-up changes as Matt Frattin reportedly is not yet 100% and will stay on IR for today.
Hopefully we will see a confident and hungry Leaf squad that, on paper at least, outclasses a desimated Ottawa team. I'm done with flat... no more flat.