I have been slacking with the blogging thing with the holidays and all but that’s done and over with and I’m back! So when I last posted the Leafs were on a bit of a winning streak and all was looking good in Leaf land. My how things changed! Over there last 10 games the Leafs are 2-6-2 four points out of a playoff spot in 13th in the east.
For those who see the cup as half full you are saying it’s only four points or two wins which on the surface doesn’t seem all that bad, but for those of us including myself that like to look a little deeper then just on the surface this Leafs team is in trouble. Of the eight teams that are currently in the playoffs only two teams have played either the same or more games then Toronto, to make matters worse two of the four teams that are in between the Leafs and a playoff spot have games in hand. I realize that those teams have to win those games in hand for them to make a difference but it would be vastly unrealistic to think all of those teams are going to lose all of those games in hand. As far as head to head games with the teams in front of Toronto things don’t look much better. Boston is in 6th 6 points up on Toronto. The Leafs have 5 games left with the Bruins or a potential ten points to grab the problem is the Leafs are currently 0-3 head to head with Boston which makes up the point difference between the two teams. In seventh we have the Rangers with 45 points, 5 better then Toronto. The Leafs don’t have anymore games head to head with the Rangers and finished up 2-1-1 against them. In eighth sit the Flyers, who have 44 points four up on Toronto. The Flyers have three games in hand and head to head the Leafs are 0-2 with 2 games left. Needless to say 2-6-1 is not nearly good enough against the teams that are directly ahead of them.
To complicate things further is the injury situation. The biggest being the loss of Vesa Toskala. Since Toskala went down the Leafs are 1-4-1, the only win coming against the last place team in the Eastern Conference Tampa Bay. It’s not that Toskala was winning at any kind of great clip but at least there was the feeling that Toronto had a chance even if they didn’t score 5 goals in the game. Second would be Bryan McCabe. Just when it looked as though he had turned his season around, he broke his had and is still weeks away from coming back. McCabe added an offensive threat on defense that the Leafs have not been able to replace and without McCabe and his booming slap shot from the point the Leafs power play has dropped to 25th in the league. As for the forwards there is Darcy Tucker and Kyle Wellwood. I know that both have been in the line up as of late but it’s hardly noticeable. Wellwood was supposed to be the number two center that opponents were going to have to have two solid checking lines to defend his line and Sundin’s but Wellwood has only 5 goals and 6 assists and is a minus 6 in 25 games. Tucker has been almost unnoticeable most nights. Tucker has 4 goals and 5 assists in 34 games this year and has seen time lately on the fourth line. It was only last year that Tucker was amongst the league leaders in power play goals and when he wasn’t scoring he was being a complete pest that the opposition hated playing against.
I figure it will take 90-95 points to get into the playoffs in the east this season. With 40 points at this point in the season and 40 games left to play the Leafs have much work to do. There are 80 points available to the Leafs between now and the end of the year and they will most certainly have to pick up at least 50 of them if not more. Let’s say they have to get 95 points to make the playoffs, which would mean they would have to get 55 out of 80 points or go 27-12-1 the rest of the way. Seems like a tall order maybe even unrealistic especially when you consider 11 of the remaining games are against current division leaders and 7 are against Boston and Philadelphia who the Leafs have a 0-7 record against. It’s going to be a tough road for Toronto the rest of the way; I guess the question is…..Do miracles really happen?