Playoffs in a month?

The last few games for each team in the NHL will be over in no time and soon it will be the exciting finish.Here is the calander for the next few months for the NHL.

April 18 – Regular season ends.

April 21 – Stanley Cup playoffs begin.

May 6-21 – World championships at Riga, Latvia.

June 19 – Last possible day for Stanley Cup final.

June 24 – NHL entry draft at Vancouver.

July 1 – Free agency begins.

July 20-Aug. 4 – Salary arbitration hearings.

Aug. 6 – Deadline for salary arbitration decisions.

The regular season will end in about a month! So now is the time to make your playoff predictions. Here are some of my predictions for the playoff teams.

Eastern Conference:

1. Caralina

2. Buffalo

3. NY Rangers

4. Ottawa

5. Philadelphila

6. Montreal

7. New Jersey

8. Atlanta

Western Conference:

1. Detroit

2. Dallas

3. Calgary

4. Nashville

5. Colarado

6. Edmonton

7. Vancouver

8. Los Angeles

Those are my playoff predictions. Who do you think will make the Playoffs or even win the stanley cup?


126 Responses to Playoffs in a month?

  1. 92-93 says:

    Leafs are idle today and some bad news all around on the out-of-town scoreboard.

    The Caps decided to lose their first game to the habs tonight. The Sabres, after beating Toronto 4 out of 5 times, decided to lose to the Thrashers. The Lightning lose in OT thanks to Jokinen’s winner and a huge comeback by the Lightning.

    ———–W–L–OTL————–Pts—GP

    TB——–36-28-5—————–77—-69

    NJ——–34-25-8—————–76—-67

    MTL——-31-26-9—————–73—-67

    __________________________________

    ATL——–32-29-6—————–72—-68

    TOR——-31-30-6—————–68—-67

    NYI——–31-32-4—————–66—-67

    Leafs are 9 pts back of TB (with two extra games left to play), 8 pts back of the Devils, 5 pts back of the Habs, 3 pts back of the Thrashers (with an extra game left to play).

  2. 92-93 says:

    Before I address the game, lets look at the comments i made back on Feb 26th concerning this game: “The Leafs return home for a game against the Canes. the way Carolina is playing – this game will hopefully feature a leaf team that at least makes it close. A point would be great, 2 points would be amazing (they did defeat Carolina in OT on home ice earlier this year), but the leafs will probably lose this game in regulation.”

    well, as a result of the OTL to NYI, the loss to Buffalo/NYR, and the loss to the Caps in late-Feb, the leafs HAD TO WIN this game, even though it was an unrealistic task. this is must-win because the leafs have to keep up with the Thrashers and Habs going into their back-to-back weekend in Montreal.

    Now the positives going into this game:

    1) as mentioned before, the rumours of O’Neill and Berg retiring – as far-fetched as they may be.

    2) Halleluah! the leafs called up Bell and Suglobov and are playing Ondrus and Suglobov on the right side. FINALLY! The lines for tonight’s game might be a look into the future.

    steen——————-sundin——————-o’neill

    Kilger——————allison——————–tucker

    ponikorovsky——–antropov—————suglobov

    stajan—————-wellwood——————ondrus

    ———–McCabe—————-Kaberle————–

    ———–richardson————-berg—————–

    ———–bell———————khavanov———–

    ———————–Tellqvist————————–

    Now, this much younger line-up is still plagued by guys like O’Neill on the first line and is still putting Wellwood and Stajan on a 4th line (ludicrous!). also, it has Berg and Richardson in the top-4 – yikes! but at least they have the young guys there. next year, i would like to see Suglobov beside either Allison or Lindros. But i like the line-up for tonight as opposed to the lines themselves (pairing McCabe and Kaberle is a huge no-no and Quinn should have learned his lesson time and time again). But scratching Domi shouldn’t be that big a deal for Quinn or for any of the toronto fans. GET OVER IT. its time for Domi, O’Neill, and others to realize that if they are not going to carry the load, they will sit.

    Also, my major reservation was calling up Bell over White. why is the latter not getting ANY consideration? because of his small size? I think one the big reasons why the Leafs should NOT resign McCabe for next year lie in the AHL offensive numbers of both Bell and White (with White having better numbers defensively).

    Brendan Bell 66 games, 5 goals, 38 points, -3

    Ian White___58 games, 8 goals, 37 points +11

    bad news: the leafs opponents – Thrashers/Habs/Lightning got 5 of a possible 6 pts last night.

    As for tonight’s game, everyone had to have a big game tonight. A big PP goal by Steen and he got his nose dirty going to the net. O’Neill went to the net too and has been showing improved play recently which is good news. This line-up early in the first looked VERY DANGEROUS. they looked hungry, quick, and threw caution to the wind. i loved hearing the commenators shouting the names and passes between Ponikorovsky, Suglobov, Steen, and Bell. It’s about time (on a side note: talk about pain! Boyes’ has 59 points, 3rd in rookie scoring. Boston has 2 young Centres who are going to have at least 70 pts by the end of the year … yikes). Both PP goals were scored by the 2nd unit and why? — TRAFFIC IN FRONT OF THE NET. that’s what its all about (Wellwood and O’Neill in front of the net for the 2nd goal).

    Jeff O’Neill had a huge game tonight. and i am happy for him. if he can keep this up, next season will be a good year for the leafs. but we’ll have to see how he does for the rest of this year.

    but then the Canes come back. to give you an idea of the kind of year its been for the leafs: the refs let the play go and decide not to call numerous hooks and holds on the Canes. then they pull a rabbit out of the hat and call O’Neill for a pathetic call. the canes not only score on the PP, but they do so after McCabe tried to clear the puck and the blade of his stick broke. next thing you know, its in the Leafs’ net. that’s the kind of year its been. but it was only 2-2 at that point with plent of time left in the 3rd period. then, another wicked powerplay in the 3rd resulted in the leafs’ 3rd goal.

    ———–W–L–OTL————–Pts—GP

    TB——–36-28-5—————–77—-69

    NJ——–34-26-8——————76—-68

    ATL——–33-29-6—————–74—-69

    __________________________________

    MTL——-31-27-9—————–73—-68

    TOR——-32-30-6—————–70—-68

    NYI——–32-32-4—————–68—-68

    well, the isles beat the Habs and did everyone a huge favour. sure, the isles are still in this thing, but its the Habs that the leafs are chasing, so good news there. the Devils lost to the Flyers in a game featuring two teams the leafs will face next week. and the Thrashers came from behind to tie the Bruins and force OT and win the shootout (STUPID BRUINS!). but the most importantly, the leafs won and they played a great home game against a tough Carolina team. The leafs gained ground on the Habs, TB – who was idle, and NJ. this game bodes well for the Leafs’ future.

    On Feb 26th I stated the following: “The Leafs end off March with a 4-game road trip that will pretty much deterimine if they are in a good position heading into April (re: 7th or 8th) or out of position. The Leafs play the 2 most important games of the month – back-to-back – in Montreal. The Leafs MUST WIN BOTH GAMES THERE – regardless of whether it is in OT or in regulation (although the latter is preferable). They then head to NJ and Philadelphia. Again, a total of at least 2 points are needed from these 2 games.”

    well, the leafs won on a night that i figured they’d lose. this officially makes up for their loss on home ice to the Washington Capitals on Feb. 28. now they have to make up the 3 points that they didn’t get against the Sabres/Rangers last week and the OTL loss on Long Island. The buds are 3 points back of the Habs heading into their weekend series, 4 pts back of the Thrashers with an extra game left and the 2nd tie-breaker (winning the season series 4-0), 6 pts back of the Devils and 7 pts back of the Bolts with an extra game left to play.

  3. 92-93 says:

    Florida moved up to a point behind the Leafs. i am actually getting worried about this club – they’ve got Roberts back and Luongo playing strong and Jokinen scoring. geesh, why is this team not considered just as dangerous as the Thrashers?! Speaking of Atlanta, here’s an update on the comparision in the schedules between Montreal, Toronto, and Atlanta (with the games played in square brackets):

    MONTREAL________TORONTO________ATLANTA

    Toronto [69]———-Montreal [69]——-NJ [70]

    Toronto [70]———-Montreal [70]——-at NYI [71]

    at Pitts [71]———-at NJ [71]————————-

    ———————————————————–

    Islanders [72]——-at Phil [72]———————–

    ———————————————————–

    Capitals [73]——————————–at TB [72]

    ———————————————————–

    ________________APRIL_____________________

    Boston [74]———Buffalo [73]———–Car [73]

    ———————————————————–

    ———————–Buffalo [74]———-at Ott [74]

    Boston [75]———————————————-

    ———————–Islanders [75]——–at Fld [75]

    at Ott [76]———–at Bos [76] ———–at TB [76]

    ———————————————————–

    New Jersey [77]—–at Phil [77]———–Car [77]

    ———————————————————-

    Ottawa [78]———————————————-

    ———————–Florida [78]———–at TB [78]

    at Buff [79]———————————————-

    at Bos [80]———-at NYI [79]————Wash [79]

    ———————————————————–

    Buffalo [81]———Ottawa [80]———–Bos [80]

    ———————–at Buff [81]———————–

    ——————————————–at Wash [81]

    New Jersey [82]—–Pittsburgh [82]——-at Fld [82]

    alrighty. I want point two things out here. look at the first 2 games in April for each of these 3 teams. Montreal starts it off easy while both Toronto and Atlanta have some tough games. now, look at the last 5 games for each of these 5 teams. the schedule gets increasingly harder for Montreal, the leafs play some tough games against Ottawa and Bufalo, and the Thrashers’ schedule gets increasingly easier.

    of course, such facts don’t pre-determine who will win. where these 3 teams are heading into April will count for something. but the team that is going to make the playoffs is going to be the team who can beat the tough teams a couple of times – Carolina, Ottawa, Buffalo, Philadelphia – and who don’t lose too many to the not-so-tough teams who will be playing spoiler.

  4. nikekevin17 says:

    I think Detroit Red Wings will be in the finals for the stanely cup.

  5. 92-93 says:

    (sighs)

    I’ve waited a couple days to post this simply because the loss was simply that confounding.

    before i discuss what transpired and preview tonight’s equally-important (now more important actually) 2nd game against the habs, lets look out-of-town to see what else has gone down.

    1) the worst thing that could have possibly happened … happened – re: leafs lose to Habs but lose in a way that destroys any possible inkling that this is a team that wants to be in the playoffs.

    2) the lovely thrashers came from behind in a yet another 3rd period comeback against the suddenly hapless devils (who will make the playoffs anyways) – NJ you BETTER return the favour Sunday night and lose to the leafs in regulation! oh, an NJ was just incompetent enough to lose in OT so they also get a point. – lovely.

    3) TB came back to beat Washington in OT on thursday night. therefore, each of the 3 worst case scenarios unfolded: toronto loses without getting a point, Atl wins, NJ gets a point in their loss to Atl, and the Bolts get 2 pts. terrible.

    4) on friday night, Florida won in a shootout to the all-of-a-sudden hapless Rangers (not against the leafs though right?). florida temprorarily passes the leafs for 10th. the Isles only gain one point in an OTL loss, this is the only ‘good’ news for toronto – yikes. NJ beats Boston, widening the gap between them and toronto but the sunday game is stilll significant. going into their saturday game, the standings looked pretty bad for the Leafs:

    ———–W–L–OTL————–Pts—GP

    TB——–37-28-5—————–79—-70

    NJ——–35-26-9——————79—-70

    ATL——-35-29-6—————–76—-70

    __________________________________

    MTL——-33-27-9—————–75—-69

    FLD——-31-30-9—————–71—-70

    TOR——-32-31-6—————–70—-69

    NYI——–32-32-5—————–69—-69

    it is this simple:

    THE LEAFS NEED TO WIN BOTH GAMES THIS WEEKEND AGAINST THE HABS AND DEVILS (preferably in regulation).

    regardless of what the thrashers do tonight in long island (hopefully lose in regulation), regardless of what the bolts do at home versus the rangers tonight (hopefully lose in regulation), regardless of what montreal does in pittsburgh sunday night (hopefully lose in regulation), the leafs MUST WIN THESE TWO GAMES, or their season is done. period. i’ll still chronicle them and post standings and do the mathematics for them, but the leafs will be done unless they pull themselves within 3 pts of the Habs and keep pace with the 8th place Thrashers.

    best case scenario is for the Bolts to lose in regulation, the thrashers to lose in regulation, the leafs to win both games and the habs to lose both games in regulation on the weekend. if that does go down – and we know it won’t – the leafs will be 10th, 1pt back of the habs for 9th, 4 pts back of the Thrashers for 8th, and 5 pts back of the Devils and Bolts for 6th and 7th. moreover, each team will have 11 games remaining.

    according to the plan, the leafs have turned the remaining 3 games this month into must-wins. saturday night montreal was already a must-in along with one of the games in NJ and Philly. now both of those games are must-wins in order to make up their loss to montreal thursday night. the leafs still have to make up their OTL on Long Island and one of their back-to-back losses in NYR and Buffalo earlier on this month (a total of 3 pts, 5 pts if you include the Montreal loss).

    as for the game thursday night i’ll only say one thing. time and again leaf fans and toronto reporters seem to get their hopes up about this year’s squad and when those hopes are dashed, they then spew hyperbole and make mountains out of molehills. have you read the coverage in the toronto papers since thursday?

    all they have done is talk about how frustrated the team is – as if that was a weird thing to be at this point in the season – and made it into some sort of dysfunctional reaction. such reactions are EXPECTED. but the toronto media want sensationalism. so they go to the biggest whiner in the league – tie domi – and try to prod him for more answers after his repeated benchings. welp, domi says some stupid things and now there’s more dysfuncitonality in toronto according to the reporters – ridiculous. lets see, what else can we do to promote this image of an organization that is falling a part, oh, i know! lets take a simple one-day miscommunication between quinn and JFJ concerning belfour’s back and being out for the rest of the year and make it demonstrate some larger ill plaguing the leafs culture.

    just a pathetic display of journalism.

    guys like Cox and Berger who i respect are now descending into the depths of Simmons with their reports. if they really had some perspective they wouldnt be making such sensationalist reports. my question to them and to all leaf fans is this:

    WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?! and WHY DO YOU KEEP EXPECTING!!!

    if people just took the view of this being a transition year, there would be no talk of JFJ getting axed, no talk of ‘miscommunication.’ i mean, do your job as reporters and ask questions, but dont sensationalize!

  6. 92-93 says:

    it is fitting that the goals that put toronto out of this game permanently came on a turnover (kaberle), on a too-many-man-on-the-ice penalty, and the dumb elbowing penalty by Tucker.

    that pretty much sums up the year for toronto: selfish, stupid penalties, lackadasial effort, turnovers, and DISORGANIZATION.

    it is also fitting that the leafs could not capitalize on their opportunities in the 3rd period.

    that is all i have to say.

    the leafs may not be mathematically out of the playoffs, but you might as well put the calculator away, they aint going anywhere. Ian White recalled from the marlies is a good sign – especially in place of Khavanov (who will hopefully be replaced by white next season).

    so, in review: the core is set for next season with Sundin.

    you got the young guys in Wellwood, Stajan, Steen and Poni.

    you got your offensive D-guy in Kaberle

    you got your scoring grit in Tucker (who i won’t mind if the leafs trade him by next year’s deadline, when the game is on the line, he costs the leafs more than he helps).

    you got your minor, effective role players in Kilger and Wilm.

    assess the situation with: Lindros, Pilar, Coliacovo

    bring up: Pohl, Suglabov, Ondrus, Harrison, Kronvall, Bell and/or White

    free agent signings: 1st or 2nd line winger, a top-4 D-guy, a veteran goalie to split time with Tellqvist

    as for the rest ….

    Belak – waive

    O’Neill – waive

    Domi – waive

    Belfour – buyout

    Antropov – goodbye

    Khavnov – ba bye

    Berg – retiring – or else – goodbye

    Richardson – ba bye

    Allison – good point producer, will ask for too much though – goodbye

    McCabe – see allison – goodbye

  7. 92-93 says:

    Update March 14: The tiebreakers now look like this:

    Montreal (Toronto has 9 points while Mtl has 10 … with NO games remaining)

    New Jersey (Toronto has won the season series with 8 points and the Devils 0 with NO games left)

  8. 92-93 says:

    Before we get to the game, I want to address something I mentioned yesterday very briefly that now, the next day, takes on a tremendous amount of importance for the leafs and their future. Khavanov is out with a broken bone in his leg – for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, Brendan Bell was added to the young-Leafs-D injury list yesterday too – to join Harrison, Kronvall, and Wozniewski (all of whom could return before the season is out).

    Here is my point: Ian White is being called up and is going to (FINALLY) get an extended look by the Leafs. He’ll join Aki Berg – who is probably going to retire from the NHL, Kaberle and McCabe, Belak and Luke Richardson. I hope White plays well and makes a guy like McCabe look redundant. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying White can get the points that McCabe does right now, but – like Coliacovo before he was injured – I think White could easily replace McCabe – especially in his own end – as an offensive D-guy. You have to give these guys a shot eventually. Now, the leafs have opportunity to truly realize how unnecessary guys like McCabe, Richardson, Berg, and Khavanov truly are. My message to JFJ: when Harrison comes back – bring him up as your last recall and make him replace Belak (and who knows JFJ, throw caution to the wind and waive Belak to the Marlies!).

    Moreover, the Leafs WILL BE MORE COMPETITIVE from here on in. Don’t get me wrong, their playoff chances are shot, but the improve with young guys like White (and hopefully soon: Harrison) patrolling the blueline. This also really testes Maurice’s coaching abilities because his defence corp is virtually gone!

    Like I said last night, the leafs have a mathematical chance to make the playoffs, but that is it. But I’ll keep chronicling them down to the last game against the Pens because I am a Leaf fan: loyal to the end. Sens fans must be shaking their heads in disbelief, they just cannot understand such loyalty. That’s fine, their fan base seems to have a high turnover rate anyways.

    So, Leafs win tonight and Habs lose to the Pens tonight and they pull back within 5 pts out of 8th behind the Habs, and make up their extra-game-remaining against the Thrashers and pull within 4 pts behind 9th place Atlanta. All of a sudden, the situation doesn’t look as bleak. Oh its still bleak and don’t get me wrong – its over for the leafs and their playoff chances. I just want to point out how over-the-top some of the pronouncements have been in the toronto media over the last month. They’ve been saying the leafs have no chance for weeks and yet they keep updating the pronouncements with every loss, as if they changed their minds between games and got re-convinced that the leafs have not chance. Nothing but fickle hyperbole with the media.

    So, good news – White is on the team, Suglobov is on the team, Ondrus is up with the team. My gf mentioned something to me about the names of Belak and Berg and how fitting they are: Aki (ice-) Berg and Wade ‘Be-Lack-ing’ a lot of skills. But speaking of the media, the rumours that both Quinn and Domi (who stabbed Quinn in the back on the weekend) are gone in the offseason (to add to the Berg and O’Neill retirement rumours). Good news all around I see in the midst of a failed season.

    Ok – on to the game:

    Great first period by the leafs – good to see. Tucker continues to take dumb penalties that cost his team (yes I know he got 2 assists), Stajan continues to get his chances on the PK, and the young guys are contributing – they saw Mats last night, and in the first period they followed suit. 17 shots on goal! Amazing. Remember, the leafs never have gotten to 40 SOG yet this year.

    2nd period and 3rd period: Leafs take some penalties, Devils outshoot them, Stajan continues to play well and continues to prove why Quinn is such an idiot in sitting a hard-working kid like Stajan. Sundin scores a big goal – his 20th goal. More importantly, White gets his first assist and Stajan scores the game-winner in the 3rd – take that pat quinn. Stajan’s goal makes it 11 leafs who have hit the double-digits in goals scored. The leafs still gave up loads of shots on goal with Aubin in net, but Aubin was strong and a lot of those goals came on the 5-on-3 and with the unfair imbalence in penalties called.

    So the leafs win. But so does montreal. The leafs are still 7 pts out of 8th with both Montreal and toronto having 11 games left. But more importantly, the leafs make up their extra-game-to-play with atlanta by winning and pulling within 4 pts of the thrashers for 9th. The leafs are in 10th, one point above NYI and Florida who have an extra game left to play (12 games in total). But perhaps the most important stat of all is this: the habs and Devils are tied with the exact same record. Therefore, the leafs have 2 teams they are chasing for 8th. And the Devils are struggling right now and the Habs will probably struggle in April when their tough schedule begins.

    ———–W–L–OTL————–Pts—GP

    TB——–38-28-5—————–81—-71

    NJ———35-27-9—————–79—-71

    MTL——-35-27-9—————–79—-71

    __________________________________

    ATL——-35-30-6—————–76—-71

    TOR——33-32-6—————–72—-71

    FLD——-31-30-9—————–71—-70

    NYI——-33-32-5—————–71—-70

    another point about the Habs loss. the really bad news about both regulation losses to the habs is the fact that the leafs no longer hold the 2nd tie breaker, since they have 9 pts while the habs have 10 pts (just to give you an idea of how important it was for the leafs just to even get it to OT for one of those two losses).

    but now the leafs face the Flyers on Thursday to end off March. if they win that game – which they won’t because they are in Philadelphia – they will have 74 points. the ‘plan’ i proposed said they would get 79 points heading into April. clearly, that aint happening, meaning that they MUST win against the Flyers on Tuesday. of course, all games are must-win games.

    as for April, their first game comes on the 1st, Saturday night – against the Sabres. here’s an update on my plan. to get 91 pts – and what i assumed would be at least the 8th seed in the East – the leafs have to win virtually every game (8 or 9 out of 10 games).

    Apr 1 2006, Sat HOME Sabres … win

    Apr 3 2006, Mon HOME Sabres … lose

    Apr 5 2006, Wed HOME Islanders … win

    Apr 6 2006, Thu AWAY Bruins … win

    Apr 8 2006, Sat AWAY Flyers … win (previously planned as a loss)

    Apr 11 2006, Tue HOME Panthers … win

    Apr 13 2006, Thu AWAY Islanders … win

    Apr 15 2006, Sat HOME Senators … win (previously planned as a loss)

    Apr 16 2006, Sun AWAY Sabres … lose

    Apr 18 2006, Tue HOME Penguins … win

    No OTL’s, just wins.

  9. 92-93 says:

    here’s an update on the comparision in the schedules between Montreal, Toronto, NJ, and Atlanta (with the games played in square brackets):

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______

    ———————————————————–

    NYI [72]——-at Phil [72]—————–at OTT [72]

    ———————————————————–

    Wash [73]——————-at TB [72]——-Buf [73]

    ———————————————————–

    ________________APRIL_____________________

    Bos [74]——Buff [73]—–Car [73]——at Phil [74]

    ———————————————–at Pitt [75]

    —————Buff [74]—–at Ott [74]—————–

    Bos [75]————————————————-

    —————NYI [75]——at Fld [75]——Pitts [76]

    at Ott [76]—at Bos [76]—at TB [76]—————–

    ———————————————————–

    NJ [77]——at Phil [77]—-Car [77]—–at Mon [77]

    ————————————————-NYR [78]

    Ott [78]————————————————–

    —————FLD [78]——at TB [78]—-at Car [79]

    at Buff [79]———————————————-

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]——Phil [80]

    ———————————————————–

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————

    ————–at Buff [81]———————-Phil [81]

    ——————————-at Wash [81]————-

    NJ [82]——-Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]

    alrighty. I want point three things out here. look at the first 2 games in April for each of these 3 teams. Montreal starts it off easy while both Toronto and Atlanta have some tough games. now, look at the last 5 games for each of these 5 teams. the schedule gets increasingly harder for Montreal, the leafs play some tough games against Ottawa and Bufalo, and the Thrashers’ schedule gets increasingly easier.

    of course, such facts don’t pre-determine who will win. where these 3 teams are heading into April will count for something. but the team that is going to make the playoffs is going to be the team who can beat the tough teams a couple of times – Carolina, Ottawa, Buffalo, Philadelphia – and who don’t lose too many to the not-so-tough teams who will be playing spoiler.

    finally, if there is one team that is ripe to drop out of the playoffs – and i am not saying this in terms of the leafs catching them and making the playoffs – it is the NJ Devils, who are 3-5-2 in their last 10, Brodeur is looking shaky, and the Devils’ remaining 11 games only feature 2 below .500 teams (2 games against Pittsburgh). the rest of their games are against Ottawa, Buffalo, Phialdephia (3 games), Montreal (2 games), NYR, and Carolina. wow.

  10. 92-93 says:

    Best case scenario heading into tonight for the 11th place Leafs:

    Toronto beats Philadelphia (yeah right)

    NYI beats the Habs in regulation

    Ottawa beats NJ (the only realistic scenario here)

    if such a thing were to occur, the Leafs would have pulled within 5 pts of 8th and 7th spot (with all having 10 games remaining). This is the scenario that HAS to happen considering the next 3 games for Montreal at home (Boston twice, Washington) and NJ and Toronto (Buffalo twice at home). If this scenario doesn’t happen, the Leafs are absolutely done. It would be fitting that the Flyers put a permanent end to the Leafs’ hopes at advancing to the next level – considering the last two playoffs. The Leafs would also pull within 2 pts of the Thrashers with the Thrashers having an extra game left. Finally, it would pull them ahead of Florida for 10th, and keep them ahead of NYI.

    Well, that’s it. That’s the best case scenario. But it’s a scenario that is flawed from the outset. The leafs cannot beat the Flyers in Philadelphia. It just doesn’t happen. Right?

    Wrong. The leafs won a game that they were expected to lose. It was a solid one. They were not badly outshot, they got another stellar performance from Aubin, and the young guys contributed and responded again with the additional playing time thanks to injuries to Allison and Khavanov. White got another assist, Steen got his 17th goal, Poni his 18th goal, and Stajan his 20th point. The Leafs now have 13 guys with 20 pts or more, 8 guys with 8 or more, and about 5 guys with 50 or more. Sundin now 3rd in team scoring and will easily surpass Allison for 2nd and McCabe for 1st. Sundin is THRIVING with they young guys right now. He was hounded again tonight to. Tell me, what is the point of Belak and Domi if they DO NOT PROTECT THE CAPTAIN?!!?

    The Steen-Stajan-O’Neill was clicking again tonight, as was the Poni-Sundin-Antropov line. Richardson and White seem to complement each other (but the Belak-Berg tandem is just scary in a bad way – we need Kronvall and Harrison up here in the worst way possible, waive Belak and Berg to the Marlies for Pete’s sake). I suppose the other two lines were Kilger-Wellwood-Tucker and Ondrus-Wilm-Domi (again, where is Suglobov?!).

    Unfortunately, Montreal and NJ both won their games – even NJ in Ottawa. So the gap remains 7 pts between them and the playoffs (7th and 8th spot). Good news is that they gained ground on Atlanta for 10th, kept ahead of NYI and Florida and won a game they weren’t expected to. Now they have to reproduce this performance in BOTH games against the Sabres on Saturday and Tuesday. Toronto now has THREE teams they can try and catch for 8th as TB, NJ, and Montreal all have 81 pts. For these 3 teams, the difference between 8th and 6th could be huge considering the possible opponents in the 1st round: Ottawa, Carolina, Philadelphia or NYR. If one of these teams slide (and NJ is sliding right now), then the Leafs could take advantage. But time is running out – and in my opinion – has run out. Plus, the Leafs schedule just isn’t that good of a schedule. They MUST find a way to beat Buffalo.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Tampa Bay——–38-29–5—————-81—-10

    New Jersey——–36-27–9—————-81—-10

    Montreal———–36-27–9—————-81—-10

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-35-30–6—————-76—-11

    TORONTO———34-32–6—————–74—-10

    Florida————-32-30–9—————–73—-11

    NY Islanders——33-33–5—————–72—-10

    Oh, by the way, add Allison to the IR with Khavanov, Lindros, and Belfour. Along with the retirement threats from Berg, Domi, and O’Neill, is it a coincidence that all the players the leafs need the least are getting injured or disillusioned? Allison’s injury paves the way for what will probably be next year’s Centremen for the leafs: Sundin, Wellwood, Wilm (and you can add Pohl to replace Wilm and maybe Lindros too). Along with Telly in net, White, Woz and maybe Harrison or Kronvall on the blueline, perhaps Suglobov on the forward lines, you could be seeing a dress rehearsal for next year’s leafs team. At least I hope.

    Here’s an update on the games remaining for each of the 5 teams battling for the East’s final playoff spots (Florida and NYI not included, but they’ll play a role as well):

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______TB______

    ———————————————————————-

    Wash [73]——————-at TB [72]—-Buf [73]—-Atl [73]

    ———————————————————————-

    Bos [74]——Buff [73]—–Car [73]—at Phil [74]—at Fld [74]

    ——————————————–at Pitt [75]————–

    —————Buff [74]—–at Ott [74]—————–Fld [75]

    Bos [75]————————————————————

    —————NYI [75]——at Fld [75]—-Pitts [76]————

    at Ott [76]—at Bos [76]—at TB [76]—————–Atl [76]

    ———————————————————————

    NJ [77]—–at Phil [77]—-Car [77]—-at Mon [77]—Pitts [77]

    ———————————————-NYR [78]—-at Fld [78]

    Ott [78]————————————————————

    —————FLD [78]——at TB [78]—at Car [79]—Atl [79]

    at Buff [79]———————————————————

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]—-Phil [80]————-

    ————————————————————-at Car [80]

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————–Car [81]

    ————–at Buff [81]———————Phil [81]———-

    ——————————-at Wash [81]———————-

    NJ [82]——Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]—Wash [82]

    ok, back to ‘the plan.’ the leafs were supposed to have 79 points at this point. if they did, they’d just be 2 pts out of the 8th, 7th, AND 6th spot!!! Wow. So where did it go wrong and where did it go right?

    Well it started off bad with a loss to the Caps. The OTL to the Isles (as opposed to a win) also put the leafs off course. And not winning one of their road games in Buffalo or in NYR hurt as well. But the leafs made up some ground beating a Canes squad they were supposed to lose to and winning both their games in NJ and Philadelphia at the end of the month. So, the leafs made up their losses against the Caps and Sabres/Rangers with wins against Carolina and NJ/Philadelphia. thus, they simply had to make up one OTL point with the Isles right? wrong. we all know it was the two losses in Montreal – which were both must-wins – that killed the leafs, setting them a whole 5 points off the plan. and the WAY they loss those games were killer as well. but the ended March on a positive note even if they are pretty much out of it now.

    those 5 points must be made up in April and even then it might not guarantee anything. the plan made the assumption that 91 points would be enough. Considering that Montreal, NJ, and TB all have 10 games left and 81 points, it might seem reasonable that at least one of those teams will play .500 or less (equaling 91 points or less). this is not out of the question. but what is unrealistic is the Panthers and Thrashers who are red hot NOT eclisping the 91 point mark AND – most of all – the Leafs acquiring 17 points in their last 10 games (in other words, at least an 8-1-1 record) … which is just not enough. in other words, the original plan, which scheduled the leafs to win 6 of their last 10 games has to be adjusted:

    Apr 1 HOME Sabres …win

    Apr 3 HOME Sabres …OTL (formerly a regulation loss)

    Apr 5 HOME Islanders …win

    Apr 6 AWAY Bruins …win

    Apr 8 AWAY Flyers …win (formerly a loss)

    Apr 11 HOME Panthers …win

    Apr 13 AWAY Islanders …win

    Apr 15 HOME Senators …win (formerly a loss)

    Apr 16 AWAY Sabres …lose

    Apr 18 HOME Penguins …win

    In other words, the only allowable game to lose is the game in Buffalo. That’s it. in other words, the only way the leafs are going to make it is if one of those 3 teams AND florida, AND Atlanta have a total and absolute collapse.

  11. 92-93 says:

    Well the leafs are off for three days during which the other teams they are chasing and battling with play on. the next game for the leafs will be their 73rd against the Sabres. Both the Leafs and Atlanta will have an extra game remaining on Tampa Bay, New Jersey, and Montreal.

    On Wedneday, Crosby and the Pens host the Panthers and the Isles host the Rangers. The Leafs want both the Rangers and Pens to win their games in regulation so that they can remain ahead of both teams (also, the Leafs still have 3 of their remaining 10 games against the Panthers and Isles). Hopefully Toronto will still be in 10th spot heading into Saturday. but the more important games occur on Thurdsday night …

    Washington is in Montreal

    Buffalo is in New Jersey

    Atlanta is in Tampa Bay

    the leafs are hoping that Overchkin and the Caps find a way to beat Huet and the Habs in regulation although that is not likely – regardless of the Habs 1-2 record against the Caps this year. Hopefully, Buffalo would do us a huge favour by winning their game in NJ in regulation and then letting the leafs win their next two games in toronto against the Sabres (pulling the leafs as close to 3 points of the Devils). Finally, perhaps the most important game is the Thrashers in TB, which the leafs hope that the Thrashers win in regulation.

    that’s right, because this scenario would flatten out the standings a little, keep TB in check. however, if the Bolts win in regulation, the Thrashers would have missed their opportunity to make up their extra game on the leafs with a win (meaning a genuine 2pt-difference between the leafs and thrashers). The WORST thing to happen is this game to go to OT.

    on friday the Panthers are in Carolina to play their 73rd game and the Isles are home to the Pens to play their 74th game. hopefully both the Isles and Panthers lose their games in regulation.

    but the more important thing for the leafs is to ensure that the Bolts, Devils, and Habs don’t gain any points in their 73rd game of the year. the leafs would then have an opportunity to climb within 5 pts of any one of these 3 teams with an extra game left to play.

    The leafs have a tough opponent at home against the Sabres on Saturday night. but considering that the Devils are in Philly, Caroina is in Atlanta, and TB is in Florida to take on the red-hot panthers, the leafs – if they win – have a huge opportunity to gain on at least one of these teams ahead of them. the habs are at home for another easy home game against the Bruins. best case scenario after saturday night:

    habs lose against the Caps and Bruins in regulation, Atlanta wins in regulation against the Bolts but loses against the Canes, TB loses to the Thrashers and Panthers, and NJ loses to both Buffalo and Philadelphia (which is quite possible), but most of all, the leafs win their game on saturday night against the Sabres by any means necessary – regulation, OT, shootout, whatever. the standings after the weekend would then not look as bleak for the leafs as they do now:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Tampa Bay——–38-31–5—————-81—-8

    New Jersey——–36-29–9—————-81—-8

    Montreal———–36-29–9—————-81—-8

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-36-31–6—————-78—-9

    TORONTO———35-32–6—————–76—-9

    [5 pts back with an extra game remaining and with the Habs and Devils about to embark on a really tough stretch of schedule.]

  12. 92-93 says:

    Well the three offdays for the Leafs were anything but positive. The out-of-town scoreboard continually featured teams moving up and past the leafs. And all the buds have to look forward to is back-to-back home games against the tough, albeit struggling, Buffalo Sabres.

    On Wednesday the Panthers beat the Pens while the Rangers beat the Isles. The Panthers moved past Toronto for 10th in the conference while the Isles seem to be finally, slowly fading from the playoff race. However, on Friday night, Florida and NYI both lost, giving the Leafs a legitimate shot at being 9th in the conference by the end of this weekend (a hollow accomplishment that is considering how far back they will be from 8th). Like the Bruins, the Isles are pretty much out of it at this point thanks to their losses to the Rangers and Pens. However, like the Bruins, the Isles will have a say on where Toronto will finish because the leafs have 2 games left against NYI (and one in Boston too). Florida and Atlanta, on the other hand, are both very much in this and ahead of the Leafs but both are still too far back of 8th spot at this point. Atlanta did lose on Thursday night but they lost to the Lightning, which brings me to my next point…

    On Thursday night, the leafs’ dim playoff hopes took a big hit with all 3 of NJ, TB, and the Habs winning – all have 83 points with the leafs having one extra game remaining. To be 9 pts back with so few games remaining seems pretty hopeless for the leafs. If they win both of their games against the Sabres – which is a very long shot – the Leafs are likely still 9 pts back with the Habs taking on Boston twice at home, NJ in Philly and Pittsburgh, and TB having a home-and-home with Florida. If the Leafs do gain ground great. But at this point, the Leafs absolutely cannot drop back further than 9 pts back of the 8th spot – regardless of who holds it. If they can keep within 9 pts or less of 8th as the weekend comes to an end, the leafs still have an outside chance, even with just 8 games remaining. Why? Well, I don’t want to verbalize it too much and jinx it, but after Boston, Montreal has some pretty tough games remaining. The thing is, so does Toronto.

    So tonight’s game against Buffalo was a must-win. They have the ingredients for next year’s team at their disposal: White, Aubin/Tellqvist, Stajan playing centre. However, they didn’t play Suglobov (they sent him down on Friday actually) and they haven’t called up either Kronvall or Harrison although both are available. I really don’t see how big of a deal it is to waive a guy like Berg or Belak to the minors when the former is planning on retiring and the latter should be waived at some point anyways. But according to JFJ’s comments in the Sun, Belak and Berg are better for the Leafs then Harrison or Kronvall. Go figure. With Suglobov’s demotion, the Wilm-Ondrus-Domi line seems to be given a boost by JFJ and Quinn. I am not going to complain too much about it at this point. But I really hope Harrison and Kronvall can play for the Leafs in the next 10 games.

    Daniel Briere missed tonight’s game due to a weird suspension. But he didn’t play last time when Buffalo beat toronto at home 8-4 and Tim Connoly the leaf-killer IS playing. Again, as I noted in the last buffalo game, the pattern for the leafs and sabres this year: the leafs are in the game in the 1st half, but in the 2nd-half, the Sabres – despite great Leafs chances – pull away and win the game (also, the Sabres have outscored toronto like 12-2 in the 3rd period in 5 previous meetings – ouch).

    But tonight was different.

    It was an odd night. Sens shutout against the Caps, and the Leafs winning 7-0 against the Sabres. Ian White, another 2 points, Stajan 2 points, Steen 2 points, Sundin, Antropov, 2 points, Poni 3 points. Sundin is 3 pts back of McCabe for the team scoring lead, 4 guys will have 60 pts or more, Tucker will have 50 pts, Wellwood and Steen will have 40 pts, O’Neill and Poni will have 30 pts, etc.

    But the bad news on the out-of-town must be frustrating: Atlanta wins, Florida wins (against TB), Habs win, Devils win … only the Bolts losing. Wow. Just bad luck all around for the Leafs this year. Get this: in their last 13 games the leafs are 8-4-1. Their four losses? 2 against the Rangers and Buffalo on the road (outshot the Rangers and outplayed the Sabres for much of those games), and those 2 losses in Montreal. If it is not for those 2 losses in montreal, the leafs are in the playoffs. It is just that simple. The win tonight was a must-win and so is the game on Monday night (although I have that as an OTL game, the leafs should win it considering the way the teams ahead of them are playing). Perhaps I am not giving enough credit to the Habs, but they just seem like a team that is asking for a losing streak. They have a hot goalie that is keeping them in games and the teams they are playing flat out suck (including the leafs last week). However, it might be too little too late for a late-season collapse to keep these Habs from making the playoffs.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    New Jersey——–38-27–9—————-85—-8

    Montreal———–38-27–9—————-85—-8

    Tampa Bay——–39-30–5—————-83—-8

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-36-31–6—————-78—-9

    Florida————-34-31–9—————–77—-8

    TORONTO———35-32–6—————–76—-9

    Sunday, the Devils are in Pittsburgh and if they lose in regulation, the leafs are 9 pts back with 2 additional games to play. But Monday night is where it’s at:

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______

    ———————————————–at Pitt [75]

    —————Buff [74]—–at Ott [74]—————–

    Bos [75]————————————————-

    —————NYI [75]——at Fld [75]——Pitts [76]

    at Ott [76]—at Bos [76]—at TB [76]—————–

    ———————————————————–

    NJ [77]——at Phil [77]—-Car [77]—–at Mon [77]

    ————————————————-NYR [78]

    Ott [78]————————————————–

    —————FLD [78]——at TB [78]—-at Car [79]

    at Buff [79]———————————————-

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]——Phil [80]

    ———————————————————–

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————

    ————–at Buff [81]———————-Phil [81]

    ——————————-at Wash [81]————-

    NJ [82]——-Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]

    The Wednesday night game against the Isles is a key game, its the big make-up game for the leafs on the teams that are ahead of them. If the Leafs can be within 7 pts or 9 pts of the triumvriate in 6th-8th, a win against the Isles would be huge.

    all of a sudden, the leafs have a game in boston that if they win, the leafs could coneiveably be within 3-5 pts of 8th spot going into their Saturday night game in Philly.

  13. 92-93 says:

    so, whats the best thing that could happen to the leafs?

    well #1: another home win against the Sabres Monday night. that keeps the leafs alive with 78 points and some extra games left to play.

    but lets rewind for a sec.

    obviously the Devils will hopefully lose in pittsburg on sunday.

    on monday, the leafs must win, but Florida must beat TB in regulation, and atlanta must lose to Ottawa in regulation. looking ahead to Tuesday night’s game between the habs and bruins which we will assume the habs will win, here are the standings if the above scenario occurs:

    so the leafs are in 10th by virtue of their tiebreaker over atlanta (season series), a point back of Florida with an extra game left (and a head-to-head match up next week). fine. but the leafs pull within 5 pts of the Bolts, 7 within NJ, and 9 within the habs. what does this mean?

    well, the leafs play their extra game remaining against the Isles Wednesday night at home. if the leafs win that one, we could then start talking about them maybe sneaking into the playoffs. Why? well if you look at the remaining games left for each team, the leafs dont have an easy schedule, but compared to the Hbas and Devils they do.

    On Wed night, NJ beats pittsburgh Wed night and the Panthers beat the Thrashers that night as well (and the leafs beat NYI at home).

    Finally, on thursday night, the thrashers beat the lightning in regulation and the Sens beat the Habs in regulation to begin what will hopefully be a losing streak for Montreal.

    here are the standings after Thursday night and heading into Saturday night:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–39-28–9—————-87—-6

    New Jersey——–39-28–9—————-87—-6

    Tampa Bay——–39-32–5—————-83—-6

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———38-32–6—————–82—-6

    Florida————-36-31–9—————–81—-6

    Atlanta————-37-33–6—————-80—-6

    and there you go, this very convoluted scenario that could occur between Sunday and Thursday is complete.

    this scenario seems (and is) unrealistic even if it does allow for the habs to beat the bruins, the panters to beat the thrashers in regulation and the devils to beat pittsburgh on wed night. it requries that the leafs find a way – any way – to win another game against buffalo, NYI, and in boston – in other words, win 6 straight.

    ===================================================================================================

    the interesting part comes after this scenario though. heading into Saturday night, all the 6 teams have 6 games remaining. all of a sudden, the leafs are alone in 9th, 3 pts back of 8th, 5 pts back of the 6th and 7th.

    the habs remaining 6 games are going to be tough and it is very likely that they will not reach 91 points. they have the devils twice (maybe 2 pts there), Buffalo twice, Ottawa once (no points), and in Boston (maybe two points there).

    the Devils also have a tough stretch but not as bad as the habs. they have the habs twice, Carolina, NYR once (maybe 4 pts altogether there), and 2 games against the Flyers. i can see them finishing with no more than 93 pts.

    The Bolts seem to have an easier schedule with Florida, Pttsburgh, Atlanta, and Washington (but all those teams are playing everyone tough right now). if you give them 6 points there, their remaining home-and-home with Carolina should be tough. they finish with 91 pts at the most.

    So the leafs have it tough to say the least. by the above predictions, the leafs would still have to win 5 of their remaining 6 games and their schedule includes another game against buffalo, ottawa, and philly (maybe 2 pts). they also have tough home games against florida, Pittsburgh, and a road game against the Isles (6 pts). assuming these 8 pts, the leafs would tie with 91 points with the likes of Montreal and TB.

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______TB______

    NJ [77]—–at Phil [77]—-Car [77]—-at Mon [77]—Pitts [77]

    ———————————————-NYR [78]—-at Fld [78]

    Ott [78]————————————————————

    —————FLD [78]——at TB [78]—at Car [79]—Atl [79]

    at Buff [79]———————————————————

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]—-Phil [80]————-

    ————————————————————-at Car [80]

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————–Car [81]

    ————–at Buff [81]———————Phil [81]———-

    ——————————-at Wash [81]———————-

    NJ [82]——Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]—Wash [82]

  14. 92-93 says:

    Well, according to my adjusted plans, its all going as I predicted … but now we have win 6 straight games (including games against the Sens and Flyers – yikes).

    Apr 1 HOME Sabres …win

    Apr 3 HOME Sabres …OTL (formerly a regulation loss)

    Apr 5 HOME Islanders …win

    Apr 6 AWAY Bruins …win

    Apr 8 AWAY Flyers …win (formerly a loss)

    Apr 11 HOME Panthers …win

    Apr 13 AWAY Islanders …win

    Apr 15 HOME Senators …win (formerly a loss)

    Apr 16 AWAY Sabres …lose

    Apr 18 HOME Penguins …win

    Best Monday night scenario ================

    #1: the leafs need another home win against the Sabres Monday night. that keeps the leafs alive with 78 points and some extra games left to play. And the leafs lost in OT.

    Florida must beat TB in regulation. TB won – and that was not good news, regardless of the Leafs gaining ground on Florida.

    Atlanta must lose to Ottawa in regulation. And they did 6-4.

    The Leafs now find themselves 8 pts out of 7th and 8th with the Habs taking on the easy-to-beat Bruins (I wonder how easy it will be on Thursday night for the Leafs). The good news is that the Leafs continue to play solid down the stretch and yet another game that sees a call-up make a difference (this game it was Pohl). The Leafs absolutely should and must win their next two games against the Isles and Bruins. There are no two ways about it. The leafs would then get to 81 pts and have an opportunity to pull within 4 pts out of 8th (considering that Atlanta and TB meet the Thursday night when the leafs play in Boston). Their extra game played on both TB and Montreal comes Wednesday night at home against the Isles. A MUST WIN.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    New Jersey——–39-27–9—————-87—-7

    Tampa Bay——–40-30–5—————-85—-7

    Montreal———–38-27–9—————-85—-8

    _______________________________________

    Atlanta————-36-32–6—————-78—-8

    TORONTO———35-32–7—————–77—-8

    Florida————-34-32–9—————–77—-7

    As for the Buffalo-Toronto game, it was not surprising to see Buffalo come out and take it to the Leafs. The leafs were lucky to escape the 1st and 2nd periods down only a goal. Pohl had a huge goal, Sundin with his 40th assist. Once again, a crucial close game between the Sabres and Leafs went to the 3rd period, where historically the Sabres have blown the Leafs out of the water. Recap:

    Nov 11: leafs and sabres tied at 2, in the 3rd the Sabres score 3 goals to win 5-2.

    Dec 29: leafs led 3-2, Sabres score to tie it and force it to OT, leafs win in Shootout 4-3.

    Jan 26: leafs fight back to make it a one-goal game heading into the 3rd, where the Sabres score 3 times to win 8-4.

    Mar 3: leafs down 4-1 into the 3rd, where they finally score a goal but the Sabres add two more and win 6-2.

    Mar 16: leafs down 1-0 into the 3rd, and score to tie it but the Sabres come back and score two more to win it 3-1.

    Apr 1st: leafs lead 5-0 heading into the 3rd and add two more to win 7-0.

    So clearly, history didn’t favour the Leafs. Before the April 1st game, the leafs were outscored 12-2 by the Sabres in the 3rd period. Twice they came back to tie it and each time the Sabres eventually pulled away. It is the Sabres speed and consistency that enables them to pull away (along with the Leafs’ ability to eventually find a way to shoot themselves in the foot).

    Heading into the 3rd, the leafs needed big periods from the big guys – not just Sundin – but from guys who have been very silent as of late: McCabe, Kaberle, and Tucker. These guys have been very cold lately and if the leafs were handed any man-advantages (like they were heading into the 3rd), these guys had to be big and score. Its great to see Pohl, White, Poni, Steen, Stajan, and Wellwood put up the points. But the big guys have to step up and be consistent too. Well the tying 2-2 goal came on the PP, but it came from the S.O.S. line once again and the 2nd unite powerplay with about 7 minutes left in the 3rd. Stajan’s goal was big and it was Steen’s 40th point of the year (O’Neill’s 35th point). But would the Sabres continue the trend and score before the end of the 3rd period? Well the leafs outplayed the Sabres the rest of the way. Aubin kept them in it in OT. But it came down to a shootout, which is not what the Leafs wanted playing at home with their flickering playoff hopes on the line. My shootout picks were Sundin, Ponikorovsky, and Steen (with maybe Wellwood thrown in there). Quinn’s picks: Sundin, Tucker (???),

    Once again, Sundin misses in the Shootout. Tucker misses – why does Quinn reward this veteran?!?! Ponikorovsky misses and the Leafs lose in OT.

    Likely Tuesday scenario ==========================

    The leafs get a day off before their crucial back-to-back set on Wednesday and Thursday night. More on that in a moment. The lone important game Tuesday night is the Habs at home to the lowly Bruins. I would love to see Montreal lose but it is just not going to happen. As a result the Habs pull into a tie with NJ, a full 10 pts up on Toronto with the Leafs having just one extra game remaining. Pretty grim. If the Habs somehow lost in regulation to the Bruins, the Leafs would be 8 pts back with an extra game left to play.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    New Jersey——–39-27–9—————-87—-7

    Montreal———–39-27–9—————-87—-7

    Tampa Bay——–40-30–5—————-85—-7

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-36-32–6—————-78—-8

    TORONTO———35-32–7—————–77—-8

    Florida————-34-32–9—————–77—-7

    Best Case Wednesday scenario ==========================

    The Leafs play their extra game remaining against the Habs and Bolts. They must win and should win against the Isles. It is likely that the Devils will beat Pittsburgh for their 40th win and pretty much be on their way to being out of Toronto’s reach for good. Meanwhile the Panthers should beat the Thrashers at home and in regulation so that the Leafs can put both the Panthers and Atlanta behind them – hopefully for good. Most importantly, the Leafs make up their extra game on the Habs by pulling within 8 points of them and the Bolts by pulling within 6 pts of them. Despite the considerable gap between the Leafs and these two teams, at this point, the Leafs can still be considered to be back in the playoff race because they are the lone 9th place team and because of their solid play.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    New Jersey——–40-27–9—————-89—-6

    Montreal———–39-27–9—————-87—-7

    Tampa Bay——–40-30–5—————-85—-7

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———36-32–7—————–79—-7

    Florida————-35-32–9—————–79—-6

    Atlanta————-36-33–6—————-78—-7

    Best case scenario: Thursday night:==============

    On Thursday night the Leafs (and everyone else) make up their extra game remaining on the Devils and Panthers. But the important thing is that the Leafs find a way to win in Boston against red-hot Tim Thomas, the Thrashers must beat the Lightning in regulation (hence, why the Thrashers must lose to Florida the previous night), and the Sens must beat the Habs in regulation to begin what will hopefully be a long losing streak for Montreal. If this scenario unfolds, the Leafs will find themselves just 4 points outside of 8th and 6 points behind Montreal for 7th.

    Here are the standings after Thursday night and heading into Saturday night:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    New Jersey——–40-27–9—————-89—-6

    Montreal———–39-28–9—————-87—-6

    Tampa Bay——–40-31–5—————-85—-6

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———-37-32–7—————-81—-6

    Atlanta————-37-33–6—————-80—-6

    Florida————-35-32–9—————–79—-6

    There you go, this very convoluted scenario that could occur between Sunday and Thursday is complete. Going into Saturday night’s game against the Flyers, the Leafs are just 4 points behind TB and 6 points back of the Habs while NJ seems to be out of reach at this point. The leafs are also alone in 9th and a point ahed of the Thrashers and 2 points up on the Panthers. Everyone will have just 6 games remaining. This scenario seems (and is) unrealistic even if it does allow for the Habs to beat the Bruins and the Devils to beat Pittsburgh to essentially be out of reach. It also requires the leafs find a way – any way – to win their games against NYI and in Boston.

    ===================================================================================================

    the interesting part comes after this scenario though.

    the habs remaining 6 games are going to be tough and it is very likely that they will not reach 91 points. they have the devils twice (maybe 2 pts there), Buffalo twice (no points), Ottawa once (no points), and in Boston (maybe two points there).

    the Devils also have a tough stretch but not as bad as the habs. they have the habs twice, Carolina, NYR once (maybe 4 pts altogether there), and 2 games against the Flyers. I can see them finishing with no more than 95 pts – but that is well out of the Leafs’ reach.

    The Bolts seem to have an easier schedule with Florida, Pttsburgh, Atlanta, and Washington (but all those teams are playing everyone tough right now). if you give them 6 points there, their remaining home-and-home with Carolina should be tough. they finish with 91 pts at the most and might still be within the Leafs’ grasp by game #82.

    So the leafs have it tough to say the least. Even after the above predictions of the leafs winning an additional 3 games, the leafs would still have to win 5 of their remaining 6 games and their schedule includes another game against buffalo, ottawa, and philly (maybe 2 pts). they also have tough home games against Florida, Pittsburgh, Islanders, and a road game against the Isles (6 pts). Assuming that they get these 8 pts, the leafs would have 90 points just outside of the projections for both the Bolts and Montreal. This means that they must find a way to not only win another 3 straight games (making it 6 in total), not only taking 6 pts our of their 4 games against the Pens, Isles, Bruins, and Panthers, but also to take at least 4 pts out of their 3 games against Ottawa, Buffalo, and Philadelphia. Very tough indeed.

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______TB______

    NJ [77]—–at Phil [77]—-Car [77]—-at Mon [77]—Pitts [77]

    ———————————————-NYR [78]—-at Fld [78]

    Ott [78]————————————————————

    —————FLD [78]——at TB [78]—at Car [79]—Atl [79]

    at Buff [79]———————————————————

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]—-Phil [80]————-

    ————————————————————-at Car [80]

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————–Car [81]

    ————–at Buff [81]———————Phil [81]———-

    ——————————-at Wash [81]———————-

    NJ [82]——Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]—Wash [82]

  15. 92-93 says:

    Apr 1 HOME Sabres …win

    Apr 3 HOME Sabres …OTL (formerly a regulation loss)

    Apr 5 HOME Islanders …win

    Apr 6 AWAY Bruins …win

    Apr 8 AWAY Flyers …win (formerly a loss)

    Apr 11 HOME Panthers …win

    Apr 13 AWAY Islanders …win

    Apr 15 HOME Senators …win (formerly a loss)

    Apr 16 AWAY Sabres …lose

    Apr 18 HOME Penguins …win

    Leafs somehow find a way to play terribly against the Isles and still win with a goal late in the 3rd period. So, according to revised above plan for April, the Leafs are right on track. Of course this is the first win of what must be 6 in a row but that’s for a later post. Sufficed to say, if the leafs play anywhere near as bad as they did tonight, they won’t win any more games this year — period! But lets look at the Tuesday scenario we proposed. It was predicted that the Habs would win and they did. It would have been great if they lost but now the Bruins better roll over for the leafs tomorrow night! But tonight the leafs were godawful – the penalties they took, their turnovers, their lack of shots and unfathomable lack of will in general.

    Just a couple of points: Ian White has 5 points in 5 games and is 30th in rookie defencemen scoring. At this pace he will have 12 points by the end of this season and will likely be in the top-20 in that category (and #1 in points-per-game among rookie defencemen). Coliacovo had 7 points in 21 games and is still in the top-25 in that department. Another thing: the leafs have 4 players with 60 points or more (McCabe, Sundin, Allison, Kaberle will reach 60 soon enough), 5 with 50 or more (Tucker), 7 with 40 or more (thanks to the two rookies – Steen and Wellwood, the latter will reach 40 soon enough), 9 with 30 or more (O’Neill, Ponikorovsky), and 13 with 20 or more points (Kilger, Antropov, Lindros, Stajan). Of these 13 players, I think Allison, McCabe, O’Neill, Lindros, and maybe Antropov should be let go or traded in the offseason (that’s 4 or 5 players). Also, they have 12 players who are in the double-digits with goals, and by the end of the year they’ll likely have 6 players with 20 or more goals (Tucker, Sundin, McCabe, O’Neill, Ponikorovsky, Steen, Allison would be there too if he wasn’t injured, and who knows maybe Kilger might score 5 more times to hit that mark). Finally, you look at the top-10 in Leafs +/- starting at #10: Pohl, Coliacovo, Bell, Sundin, Wellwood, Harrison (+5 in 8 games), Stajan, White (+6 in 5 games), Ponikorovsky (+11), Antropov (+11). Notice anything? … ALL YOUNG GUYS (and Kaberle and Kilger are just barely minus guys). JFJ can you take a hint?

    And all this talk – including from me – about getting rid of Nik Antropov when he leads the team in +/- and is a career point-every-two-games guy. I looked up his stats and compared them to Maxim Afineganov of Buffalo:

    2005-2006 Sabres 71 21 43 64

    2003-2004 Sabres 73 17 14 31

    2002-2003 Sabres 35 5 6 11

    2001-2002 Sabres 81 21 19 40

    2000-2001 Sabres 78 14 22 36

    1999-2000 Sabres 65 16 18 34

    NHL Totals: 403_ 94_ 122_ 216_ -28 (.54 points-per-game-average)

    2005-2006 Maple Leafs 51 10 15 25

    2003-2004 Maple Leafs 62 13 18 31

    2002-2003 Maple Leafs 72 16 29 45

    2001-2002 Maple Leafs 11 1 1 2

    2000-2001 Maple Leafs 52 6 11 17

    1999-2000 Maple Leafs 66 12 18 30

    NHL Totals: 314_ 58_ 92_ 150_ +47 (.48 points-per-game-average)

    Antropov is 26 (Feb 1980) and is slow but big – 6 foot 6, 230 pounds. Afiniganov is 27 (Sept 1979) and is fast but small – 6 feet, 191 pounds. In terms of the new NHL you have to go with Maxim I guess but there is not that much of a difference in terms of production … except for this year in the new NHL.

    Antropov: 2005-2006 Maple Leafs 51 10 15 25 +11

    Afiniganov: 2005-2006 Sabres ___71 21 43 64 E

    And yet, Antropov still has better defensive numbers and has throughout his career.

    OK.

    So the leafs won, despite their poor play. This was their game in hand on the Bolts and Habs and they kept pace with these teams and are 6 points back of the Bolts and 8 points back of the Habs. Unfortunately, NJ did win their 40th game against the Pens and you might as well consider the Devils too far ahead of the Leafs (barring some monumental collapse – which is why we will keep them on the standings below). It is official now, the 6 teams below are the only teams left in the East that haven’t been eliminated or haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet and therefore are still officially ‘up in the air.’ Unfortunately, the Thrashers beat the Panthers but at least they did it in regulation. The Leafs are now up on the Panthers by 2 points and have an extra game remaining (as well as a head-to-head match-up next week). The Thrashers are still ahead of the Leafs and the Buds are going to have to hope that the Thrashers to keep winning tomorrow night against the Bolts. If they do, the Thrashers will pull within 3 pts of 8th, if they lose, they’ll be 7 pts – now that is a HUGE 4pt-game. The Leafs must focus on Boston and beating them. If they do, they will gain on one of these two teams ahead of them – Bolts or Thrashers – guaranteed. Moreover, Montreal is in Ottawa so the Habs might be another team Toronto can gain ground on that seems out of reach now. Finally, the Leafs make up their extra game against the Panthers and can put them 4 pts back with both teams having 6 games left. Once again, A HUGE GAME tonight in Boston that will make-or-break the Leafs.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    New Jersey——–40-27–9—————-89—-6

    Montreal———–39-27–9—————-87—-7

    Tampa Bay——–40-30–5—————-85—-7

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-37-32–6—————-80—-7

    TORONTO———36-32–7—————–79—-7

    Florida————-34-33–9—————–77—-6

    Best case scenario: Thursday night:==============

    On Thursday night the Leafs (and everyone else) make up their extra game remaining on the Devils and Panthers. But the important thing is that the Leafs find a way to win in Boston against red-hot Tim Thomas, the Thrashers must beat the Lightning in regulation, and the Sens must beat the Habs in regulation to begin what will hopefully be a long losing streak for Montreal. If this scenario unfolds, the Leafs will find themselves just 4 points outside of 8th and 6 points behind Montreal for 7th.

    Here are the standings after Thursday night and heading into Saturday night:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    New Jersey——–40-27–9—————-89—-6

    Montreal———–39-28–9—————-87—-6

    Tampa Bay——–40-31–5—————-85—-6

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-38-32–6—————-82—-6

    TORONTO———-37-32–7—————-81—-6

    Florida————-34-33–9—————–77—-6

    There you go, this very convoluted scenario that could occur between Sunday and Thursday is complete. Going into Saturday night’s game against the Flyers, the Leafs are just 4 points behind TB and 6 points back of the Habs while NJ seems to be out of reach at this point. The leafs are in 10th place just one point behind the Thrashers and 4 points up on the Panthers. At this point, most people must consider the Thrashers and Leafs as still having legitimate – if outside – shots at making the playoffs. Everyone will have just 6 games remaining. This scenario seems (and is) unrealistic even if it does allow for the Habs to beat the Bruins and the Devils to beat Pittsburgh to essentially be out of reach. It also requires the leafs find a way – any way – to win their games against NYI and in Boston.

    ===================================================================================================

    the interesting part comes after this scenario though.

    The Habs remaining 6 games are going to be tough and it is very likely that they will not get more than 91 points. They have two home games against the Devils (maybe 2 pts there), Buffalo twice (no points), they are at home to Ottawa once (no points), and are in Boston (maybe two points there).

    The Devils have perhaps an even tougher stretch but considering that they already have 89 points they are in the best position heading into these final 6 games of any of team. They play in Montreal twice (maybe 2 points there), they play in Carolina and at home to NYR once each (maybe 2 pts altogether there), and have to road games against the Flyers (0 points). I project them to finish with no more than 93 pts – but that is still well out of the Leafs’ reach.

    The Bolts seem to have an easier schedule with home games against Washington and Pittsburgh (4 pts there). But their other home game against Atlanta will be tough (2 pts). They are also in Florida (0 pts) and have a home-and-home with Carolina (0 points). Like the Habs, I project TB to finish with no more than 91 pts at the most and, therefore, they might still be within the Leafs’ grasp by game #82 (but they will also probably be within the grasp of Atlanta and Florida too).

    So the Leafs have it tough to say the least. Even after the above predictions of the leafs winning an additional 3 games, the leafs would still have to win 5 of their remaining 6 games. They have a road game against Buffalo remaining (0 pts), a home game against Ottawa (0 pts), and a road game in Philadelphia (0 pts). They also have tough home games against Florida and Pittsburgh and tough road game against the Islanders (6 pts). Assuming that they get these 6 pts – and that they win in Boston tonight- the leafs would only have 87 points and would finish 4 pts shy of Montreal and Tampa Bay’s projected position. In other words, the Leafs MUST find a way to not only beat the teams below them (for 8 pts) but also a way to take at least 4 pts out of their 3 games against Ottawa, Buffalo, and Philadelphia for a grand total of 91 points. Even then a playoff position is not guaranteed in the event that they tie with either Montreal or Tampa Bay.

    Very tough indeed.

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______TB______

    NJ [77]—–at Phil [77]—-Car [77]—-at Mon [77]—Pitts [77]

    ———————————————-NYR [78]—-at Fld [78]

    Ott [78]————————————————————

    —————FLD [78]——at TB [78]—at Car [79]—Atl [79]

    at Buff [79]———————————————————

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]—-Phil [80]————-

    ————————————————————-at Car [80]

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————–Car [81]

    ————–at Buff [81]———————Phil [81]———-

    ——————————-at Wash [81]———————-

    NJ [82]——Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]—Wash [82]

  16. 92-93 says:

    Are you kidding me? How do you come into a game that is as important as this one and play the first period the leafs play. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE LEAFS?! In the past 3 games, they have played horrendous in the first period!?! HOW?! How do you only muster 2 shots on goal in the first period of a game that you HAVE TO WIN!?!?! Unbelievable. Of course the hockey gods running out of anti-leaf narratives so they resorted to the old ‘former-leaf-that-did-nothing-as-a-leaf-comes-back-to-bite-leafs-by-scoring-a-big-goal’ story (wait until you see the shootouts for a replay of this narrative – this time on a player the leafs never gave a shot). But the goal was a result of a turnover by the Leafs and on a delayed penalty. On the out-of-town scoreboard: habs are tied with the Sens 1-1, and the Bolts lead the Thrashers 1-0.

    In the 2nd period, Poni scores another big goal and the Leafs outshoot the Bruins big time. But some more dumb defensive zone coverage and another Bruins goal on a delayed penalty call. The leafs had to kill a 5-on-3 that was well played by Kaberle. Speaking of Kaberle, he needs to register a point. The big guys like Sundin, McCabe, and Kaberle need to carry this team in the 3rd and all four lines have to roll and really load Thomas with a lot of shots and the leafs need to score … big time. Its 3-2 for Montreal over Ottawa, 1-0 for Tampa Bay over Atlanta. Not good news. At this point in the 3rd (14 minutes left), the worst possible scenario is playing itself out. The leafs NEED TO SCORE NOW! What is amazing is that the Leafs think they could get away with only getting 30 shots on goal on a guy like Thomas, who regularly faces 40 shots and makes 35-40 saves a game (I know this because of the Bruins choosing to lose twice to the Habs in Montreal).

    MATS SUNDIN!!! – – #13 — and with 13 seconds left! 2-2! Sundin ties McCabe for the points lead and he pretty much has it now. Now its onto OT … the leafs MUST SCORE here before the Shootout. I know – the Bruins are supposed to be worse then the Leafs in the shootout and that the leafs have beaten them twice this year in shootouts. BUT … the Leafs have been pretty bad too and it just shouldn’t be decided that way. The leafs need to score NOW in OT. A crucial powerplay in OT thanks to some good work by Stajan in the Boston zone (and even Belak did some nice work to keep the puck in). If the leafs don’t score 4-on-3 here … then I dunno.

    ….

    And they don’t. Not enough shots on goal. Unfortunately, a shot did hit the back of Glen Murray’s head.

    On to the F-ING shootout. I hate this. I really do. Who will Quinn use – the vets or the young guys? Again, my choices: Steen, Ponikorovsky, Sundin (fourth selection: Wellwood, fifth selection: O’Neill).

    We’ll see who Pat Quinn chooses …. Sundin, Tucker, Poni all miss. And it is Brad Boyes who gets the goal.

    The point is this: if the leafs play 60 minutes in the most important game of the year, then they wouldn’t have had to tie it up with 13 seconds left, they wouldn’t have had to go to the crap shoot that is the shootout. The same can be said for their NYI game the night before, which they almost lost, and the shootout loss to the Sabres on Monday night. Period.

    At the same time, its just hard to believe that the leafs were 7 points behind Montreal for 8th spot after their losses to the Habs. Now, 6 games later, the leafs have picked up 10 of a possible 12 points and they are STILL 7 points out of 8th and now 9 pts behind the Habs. Unbelievable. Only the Leafs can be given such luck.

    Here are the standings after Thursday night and heading into Saturday night:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    New Jersey——–40-27–9—————-89—-6

    Montreal———–40-27–9—————-89—-6

    Tampa Bay——–41-30–5—————-87—-6

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-37-32–7—————-81—-6

    TORONTO———-36-32–8—————-80—-6

    Florida————-34-33–9—————–77—-6

    I want to end on one final note: it is one of those moments that perfectly crystalizes the state of the Leafs and the decline and end to the pat quinn era:

    Brad Boyes, who the leafs traded away for Nolan before the lockout and the cap system, comes in to score the goal that puts the Leafs 7 pts out of the playoffs instead of a more manageable 6 pts out. he does this while the man who traded him looks on and goes with the same 3 guys who have failed him in the shootouts. At the same time, its his loyalty to his players that continues to do him in. they continue to play 1st periods as if they were as meaningless as exhibition games. meanwhile, Nolan sits at home, waiting to exact some sort of economic revenge on the leafs that might hinder their cap space in future seasons.

    that pretty much says it all.

    Quinn and his loyalty, his lack of trust in the future.

    Boyes, the prospect who is now 3rd in rookie scoring behind Overchkin and Crosby.

    and the Leafs, who despite going with youth lately, doing so only because of injuries, and not because they actually wanted to.

  17. 92-93 says:

    Here is the revised plan for the leafs thanks to their OTL to Boston last night, now they have to get a point in Buffalo in the second-last game of the year. If all goes to plan below, the leafs will finish the season with the 91 points that this plan originally proposed back in late-Februrary:

    Apr 1 HOME Sabres …win

    Apr 3 HOME Sabres …OTL (formerly a regulation loss)

    Apr 5 HOME Islanders …win

    Apr 6 AWAY Bruins …OTL

    Apr 8 AWAY Flyers …win (formerly a loss)

    Apr 11 HOME Panthers …win

    Apr 13 AWAY Islanders …win

    Apr 15 HOME Senators …win (formerly a loss)

    Apr 16 AWAY Sabres …OTL (formerly a regulation loss)

    Apr 18 HOME Penguins …win

    It really is amazing that I can still sit here and propose plans – however unrealistic they are – that can still mathematically suggest that the leafs finish with 91 points. it is amazing because 6 games ago, after their losses in Montreal, the leafs certainly didn’t look like they were going to be still mathematically in it 2 weeks later. but they are thanks to taking 10 of a possible 12 points in those 6 games. the amazing thing is also this: they are still 7 points out of the playoffs.

    Here are the standings after Thursday night and heading into Saturday night:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    New Jersey——–40-27–9—————-89—-6

    Montreal———–40-27–9—————-89—-6

    Tampa Bay——–41-30–5—————-87—-6

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-37-32–7—————-81—-6

    TORONTO———-36-32–8—————-80—-6

    Florida————-34-33–9—————–77—-6

    As for scenarios, its just time to give on these. It is over and its been over since the losses to the Habs, and since all the mistakes that management made throughout the year as well as the 2-month slump in January and February. But here is one last best-case scenario anyway, one that is based on the above revised plan projection:

    On Saturday night, the script looks very dire for the Leafs. The Devils and Habs battle it out in Montreal in a battle between two teams that are too far out of Toronto’s reach. The real bad news comes in the form of the Leafs playing in Philadelphia and the Bolts playing at home against the worst team in the NHL – those lovely Pens. It all points to the Bolts winning, the Leafs losing, etc. etc. etc. Well who knows. But here is the best case scenario for Saturday night:

    Toronto beats Philadelphia

    Carolina defeats Atlanta in regulation

    Tampa Bay loses in regulation to the Pens

    Even in this scenario, the Leafs would be in a pretty dire position, being 5 pts out of 8th with 5 games remaining. Yet the alternative – the leafs being 7, 8, or 9 pts out of 8th spot with 5 games remaining, is much, much worse. Assuming the above Saturday night projection, this is what the standings look like heading into Sunday.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Tampa Bay——–41-31–5—————-87—-5

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———-37-32–8—————-82—-5

    Atlanta————-37-33–7—————-81—-5

    Sunday=======================

    Tampa must lose in Florida

    Tuesday========================

    If Tampa somehow loses to the Pens on Saturday night, the Panthers on Sunday, and then the Thrashers on Tuesday night, the Leafs have a legitimate shot at the playoffs if they beat the Flyers on Saturday night and Panthers on Tuesday. here is what the standings would look like heading into Wednedsay:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Tampa Bay——–41-33–5—————-87—-3

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———-38-32–8—————-84—-4

    Atlanta————-38-33–7—————-83—-4

    So the leafs are 3 points behind the Bolts with an extra game left to play and one point up on the Thrashers (who have to find a way to beat TB).

    On Thursday night==================

    the leafs defeat the Isles and make up their game-in-hand on the Bolts by pulling to within a point of TB. Meanwhile, the Thrashers keep pace by defeating the Caps at home:

    Tampa Bay——–41-33–5—————-87—-3

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———-39-32–8—————-86—-3

    Atlanta————-39-33–7—————-85—-3

    On Friday night=======================

    The Bolts lose their 4th straight in Carolina as the Canes continue to pursue Ottawa for first in the East.

    Tampa Bay——–41-34–5—————-87—-2

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———-39-32–8—————-86—-3

    Atlanta————-39-33–7—————-85—-3

    On Saturday night====================

    The Leafs finally find a way to beat Ottawa for their 40th win of the year and their 4th straight win. The Thrashers also get their 40th win by defeating Boston at home. The Bolts lose in OT to the Canes at home.

    Tampa Bay——–41-34–6—————-88—-1

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———-40-32–8—————-88—-2

    Atlanta————-40-33–7—————-87—-2

    On Sunday night=====================

    The Leafs manage to salvage a point in an OTL to the Sabres – finally thrusting the Leafs into 8th spot.

    TORONTO———-40-32–9—————-89—-1

    ________________________________________

    Tampa Bay——–41-34–6—————-88—-1

    Atlanta————-40-33–7—————-87—-2

    On Monday night=====================

    The Thrashers defeat the Caps in Washington and this puts them temporarily ahead of the Caps and Leafs.

    Atlanta————-41-33–7—————-89—-1

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———-40-32–9—————-89—-1

    Tampa Bay——–41-34–6—————-88—-1

    On Tuesday night=====================

    The Thrashers lose in Florida ending their playoff hopes. The Leafs win at home against the Pens, and the Bolts defeat the Caps. The leafs clinch a playoff spot with their 91st point, the Bolts finish in 10th with 90 pts.

    TORONTO———-41-32–9—————-91—-0

    ________________________________________

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–6—————-90—-0

    Atlanta————-41-34–7—————-89—-0

    So here are the games remaining:

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______TB______

    NJ [77]—–at Phil [77]—-Car [77]—-at Mon [77]—Pitts [77]

    ———————————————-NYR [78]—-at Fld [78]

    Ott [78]————————————————————

    —————FLD [78]——at TB [78]—at Car [79]—Atl [79]

    at Buff [79]———————————————————

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]—-Phil [80]————-

    ————————————————————-at Car [80]

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————–Car [81]

    ————–at Buff [81]———————Phil [81]———-

    ——————————-at Wash [81]———————-

    NJ [82]——Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]—Wash [82]

    And here are what these three teams must do if the leafs are to make the playoffs:

    Leafs______________________TB___________ATL____________

    Apr 8 AWAY Flyers (win)———Pitts (lose)——Car (lose)———

    ————————————-at Fld (lose)————————-

    —————————————————————————

    Apr 11 HOME Fld (win)———–Atl (lose)——–at TB (win)——–

    —————————————————————————-

    Apr 13 AWAY NYI (win)—————————–Wash (win)——–

    ————————————at Car (lose)————————-

    Apr 15 HOME Ott (win)———-Car (OTL)—————————-

    Apr 16 AWAY Buf (OTL)————————————————

    ——————————————————-at Wash (win)—-

    Apr 18 HOME Pens (win)——–Wash (win)——-at Fld (lose)——

  18. 92-93 says:

    What was the turning point in this surprising win? Well, number one: the first goal on the powerplay by Jeff O’Neill (who notched to PP goals … yes he scores his goals on the PP but at least he is scoring now). Number two: Sundin’s PP goal late in the 2nd period. The Leafs scored 4 times on the PP and everyone chipped in. Sundin got a goal, Tucker with 2 points, O’Neill with 2 goals, Steen, Kaberle (2 points for 60 on the year), Stajan, Richardson, Wellwood (2 points for 40 on the year), Kilger, White (with another point). Aubin was solid in net again, and the Leafs played the exact opposite they had played in previous 3 games – they had a strong 1st and 2nd period.

    But of course, this all seems meaningless – for this year anyways – if they don’t get help from the out-of-town scoreboard (but for the future these games ARE important). TB had to lose, one of NJ or Montreal had to lose in regulation, Atlanta had to lose, and the Leafs had to take care of their own business by winning in Philly.

    Well, Toronto did win and Montreal lost to NJ in regulation.

    But Atlanta won.

    and… TB won.

    According to the revised April plan:

    Apr 1 HOME Sabres …win

    Apr 3 HOME Sabres …OTL (formerly a regulation loss)

    Apr 5 HOME Islanders …win

    Apr 6 AWAY Bruins …OTL

    Apr 8 AWAY Flyers …win (formerly a loss)

    ———————————————————-

    Apr 11 HOME Panthers …win

    Apr 13 AWAY Islanders …win

    Apr 15 HOME Senators …win (formerly a loss)

    Apr 16 AWAY Sabres …OTL (formerly a regulation loss)

    Apr 18 HOME Penguins …win

    So far so good. The standings heading into Sunday (excluding Florida who was eliminated by the Pens Friday night and NJ who now has 91 points, who is now pretty much out of the Leafs reach):

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–40-28–9—————-89—-5

    Tampa Bay——–42-31–5—————-89—-5

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-38-32–7—————-83—-5

    TORONTO———-37-32–8—————-82—-5

    The Leafs are on the edge mathematically. any combination of a TB and MTL win and a Leafs’ regulation loss and the Leafs are out of it – that means as soon as Tuesday night at home against the Panthers. The Leafs have taken 12 of a possible 14 points, but still remain 7 pts out of 8th -just as they did before these 7-game stretch. unbelieveable. the ONLY team the Leafs gained on tonight was Montreal. and that is it.

  19. 92-93 says:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–40-28–9—————-89—-5

    Tampa Bay——–42-31–5—————-89—-5

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-38-32–7—————-83—-5

    TORONTO———-37-32–8—————-82—-5

    Here’s the updated scenario ==================================================================

    Sunday=======================

    Tampa must lose in Florida in regulation.

    Monday=======================

    Montreal must lose to Ottawa at home in regulation.

    Tuesday========================

    If Tampa loses to the Panthers on Sunday,

    and the Habs lose to Ottawa at home on Monday,

    and if the Thrashers must beat TB in regulation on Tuesday,

    the Leafs have a legitimate shot at the playoffs … if they beat the Panthers on Tuesday.

    Why? because the leafs would pull to within 5 pts of both teams. here is what the standings would look like heading into Wednedsay:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–40-29–9—————-89—-4

    Tampa Bay——–42-33–5—————-89—-3

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-39-32–7—————-85—-4

    TORONTO———-38-32–8—————-84—-4

    So the leafs are 5 points behind both the Habs and the Bolts with an extra game left to play on TB. They are also one point behind the Thrashers (who have to find a way to beat TB in regulation on Tuesday night).

    On Wednesday night=================

    Montreal must lose in Buffalo in regulation.

    On Thursday night==================

    The leafs defeat the Isles and make up their game-in-hand on the Bolts by pulling to within 3 points of TB.

    Meanwhile, the Thrashers will likely keep pace by defeating the Caps at home for their 40th win of the year.

    The Habs win on the road in Boston for their final win of the year:

    Montreal———–41-30–9—————-91—-2

    Tampa Bay——–42-33–5—————-89—-3

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-40-32–7—————-87—-3

    TORONTO———-39-32–8—————-86—-3

    On Friday night=======================

    The Bolts lose their 3rd straight in Carolina as the Canes continue to pursue Ottawa for first in the East.

    Montreal———–41-30–9—————-91—-2

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–5—————-89—-2

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-40-32–7—————-87—-3

    TORONTO———-39-32–8—————-86—-3

    On Saturday night====================

    So, heading into Saturday night the Leafs still have an outside shot to make the playoffs and finally find a way to beat Ottawa for their 40th win of the year and their 4th straight win.

    The Thrashers also win against Boston at home.

    The Bolts lose in OT to the Canes at home and have just one game left.

    Montreal loses at home in regulation to the Sabres and also have one game left.

    Montreal———–41-31–9—————-91—-1

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–6—————-90—-1

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-41-32–7—————-89—-2

    TORONTO———-40-32–8—————-88—-2

    On Sunday night=====================

    The Leafs manage to salvage a point in an OTL to the Sabres – finally thrusting the Leafs into a tie with Atlanta for 9th spot and one point back of the Bolts and two points back of the Habs.

    Montreal———–41-31–9—————-91—-1

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–6—————-90—-1

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-41-32–7—————-89—-2

    TORONTO———-41-32–8—————-89—-1

    On Monday night=====================

    The Thrashers defeat the Caps in Washington and this puts them temporarily ahead of the Habs, Bolts and Leafs. All four teams have one game left and it all goes down the next night.

    Atlanta————-42-32–7—————-91—-1

    Montreal———–41-31–9—————-91—-1

    ________________________________________

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–6—————-90—-1

    TORONTO———-41-32–8—————-89—-1

    On Tuesday night=====================

    The Thrashers lose in Florida ending their playoff hopes. The Leafs win at home against the Pens, and the Bolts defeat the Caps, which puts Tampa Bay in the playoffs with 92 points. The Habs lose at home in regulation to the Devils. Finally, the Leafs clinch the 8th and final playoff spot with their 91st point. The Leafs get the tiebreaker over Montreal by virtue of wins (thank goodness since the Habs would have gotten the 2nd tiebreaker over the Leafs) and the 2nd tiebreaker over Atlanta as a result of their 4-0 record against the Thrashers this year.

    Tampa Bay——–43-34–6—————-92—-0

    TORONTO———-42-32–8—————-91—-0

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-42-33–7—————-91—-0

    Montreal———–41-32–9—————-91—-0

    So here are the games remaining===================================================================

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______TB______

    ———————————————-NYR [78]—-at Fld [78]

    Ott [78]————————————————————

    —————FLD [78]——at TB [78]—at Car [79]—Atl [79]

    at Buff [79]———————————————————

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]—-Phil [80]————-

    ————————————————————-at Car [80]

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————–Car [81]

    ————–at Buff [81]———————Phil [81]———-

    ——————————-at Wash [81]———————-

    NJ [82]——Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]—Wash [82]

    And here are what these three teams must do if the leafs are to make the playoffs:

    _______Leafs_________TB__________ATL__________MTL_______

    Apr 9———————at Fld (lose)————————————

    Apr 10——————————————————-Ott (lose)—–

    Apr 11-Fld (win)———Atl (lose)——-at TB (win)——————–

    Apr 12——————————————————-at Buff (lose)

    Apr 13-at NYI (win)———————–Wash (win)—-at Bos (win)

    Apr 14——————–at Car (lose)———————————

    Apr 15-Ott (win)———Car (OTL)–—–Bos (win)——Buff (loss)

    Apr 16-at Buf (OTL)—————————————————–

    Apr 17————————————-at Wash (win)———–

    Apr 18-Pens (win——–Wash (win)—-at Fld (lose)—-NJ (loss)

    In review———————————————————————————————————-

    Leafs: 4-0-1

    Bolts: 1-3-1

    ATL: 4-1

    Habs: 1-4

  20. 92-93 says:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–40-28–9—————-89—-5

    Tampa Bay——–42-31–5—————-89—-4

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-38-32–7—————-83—-5

    TORONTO———-37-32–8—————-82—-5

    Good news for Leaf fans however slight it might be. The Panthers beat the Bolts in regulation today, and now hopefully the Panthers will lose to Toronto on Tuesday night and the Bolts will lose in regulation to the Thrashers on Tuesday night as well. lets not forget the Montreal-Ottawa game Monday night, hopefully the Sens win in regulation. here is what the standings would look like:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–40-29–9—————-89—-4

    Tampa Bay——–42-32–5—————-89—-3

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-39-32–7—————-85—-4

    TORONTO———-38-32–8—————-84—-4

    The key here is that these games are decided in regulation (except Toronto’s game against the Panthers, the Leafs just have to find a way to win). At this point, the Leafs playoff chances increase dramatically, even if it is a long shot. The Leafs are within a point of the Thrashers, 5 pts of Montreal and Tampa Bay with the Leafs having an extra game left to play on the Bolts. And like I’ve said before, the Leafs schedule isn’t that easy, but the schedule for Montreal and Tampa Bay are also pretty tough too:

    _______Leafs_________TB__________ATL__________MTL_______

    Apr 12——————————————————-at Buff (lose)

    Apr 13-at NYI (win)———————–Wash (win)—-at Bos (win)

    Apr 14——————–at Car (lose)———————————

    Apr 15-Ott (win)———Car (OTL)–—–Bos (win)——Buff (loss)

    Apr 16-at Buf (OTL)—————————————————–

    Apr 17————————————-at Wash (win)———–

    Apr 18-Pens (win——–Wash (win)—-at Fld (lose)—-NJ (loss)

    In review———————————————————————————————————-

    Leafs: 4-0-1

    Bolts: 1-3-1

    ATL: 4-1

    Habs: 1-4

    Tampa has a home-and-home with 1st place Carolina who is battling with Ottawa for first in the East, and then end off against the Caps.

    The Habs play in Buffalo twice, are in Boston to play the Bruins, and then at home to face the Devils.

    The Leafs are in Long Island, at home to the Sens, back on the road against the Sabres, and at home against the Pens.

    the Thrashers have the easiest schedule by far.

  21. 92-93 says:

    It is the same feeling that I had during those game 7s and 6s and 5s in previous years (against Philly, NJ, Carolina, etc.) that I had tonight. The only difference – this is the regular season. So tonight the Leafs could have been eliminated from playoff contention, making it a mathematical reality – opposed to just a rhetorical one. The possible swing in scenarios is quite remarkable: the leafs could be eliminated. The Leafs, on the other hand, could either remain 7 pts back of the Bolts and leap frog Atlanta for 9th. OR, they could pull within 5 pts of the Bolts for 8th, with an extra game left to play (TB vs. Carolina, Carolina, Washington; Toronto vs. NYI, Ottawa, Buffalo, Pittsburgh). In any case, even if the Leafs were not eliminated tonight, they were still a long shot to make the playoffs. All I asked for was that the Leafs still be mathematically alive heading into the Saturday Hockey Night In Canada telecast against the Senators.

    The Panthers have Jackman, Roberts, and Niuewendyk all looking it to stick it to their former club. The Thrashers’ motivation for tonight?: a regulation win would pull them within 4 pts of TB with an extra game left to play (and every game remaining against teams well below .500). Wow. But the Thrashers already wasted a glorious opportunity last week.

    But what a remarkable start to this game. The leafs give up TWO 2-on-1s and they are down 2-0. In a game that determines their playoff fate. They can find a way to do that. A ridiculous beginning to say the least. Leafs Power Play #1: nothing happening. 7 minutes remaining in the 1st, the leafs outshooting the Panthers but the Panthers have capitalized on their fewer shots. Power Play #2 (generated by some hard work by Stajan): GOAL! – ripped by Sundin, from Wellwood and McCabe, on the shortside. Booya. Wellwood’s 40th point of the year. Huge goal. Now the leafs can try to tie it again before the end of the period or early in the 2nd period. Shots on goal after the first period: Leafs 18, Panthers 7. But again, the Leafs not doing the simple plays and not putting in their chances. On the out-of-town scoreboard, good news, Atlanta 2, TB 1 after one period.

    2nd Period: Second period has traditionally where the Leafs have faltered. Recently, they’ve been inconsistent in the 2nd period (good in Philly, Boston bad at home against the Isles and Sabres). Power Play #3: GOOOAL! Sundin – AGAIN! On a delayed penalty which would have put them up on a 5-on-3. But a perfect shot and its Sundin’s 25th goal (again, from Wellwood and McCabe). But hold on a sec. The Leafs still get another Power play . Shots on goal are 20-to-7. The Leafs must score again! Keep it going. Power Play #4: close but no cigar. Sundin comes close to a natural hat-trick but McClennan makes a great save. Now we are waiting for some even-up calls from the Ref to put Florida on the Power Play. Well, there you go. Wellwood gets hooked by Jackman, and his stick catches Jackman in the face. And it didn’t take long for the Panthers to re-take the lead. Now listen up here: 3 goals on 9 shots. THE LEAFS NEED TO QUIT THIS GAME OF KEEPING THIS GAME CLOSE. THEY NEED TO SCORE ON THEIR CHANCES AND STOP TRADING CHANCES. BECAUSE THEY WILL LOSE! The announcers call it ‘a bit of weird’ game … but that is the last thing the leafs need. They need to keep this under control and from being a ‘weird game.’ The Leafs have to tie it up and keep the puck away from Roberts, Nieuwyndyk, and Jokinen. But throughout the 2nd period (and 1st period), the leafs continue take chances, give up odd man rushes, and give up huge chances through poor defensive zone coverage. They can shoot until their hands fall off, if they give up these chances, they will lose. Period. Power Play #5: too many men on the ice on the Panthers. Remember how I made the comment about the Leafs giving up a crucial goal to the Habs in Montreal as a result of a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty? How fitting this would be for the Leafs to tie it up on such a penalty. The result? A goal post for Tucker. BUT another Florida penalty so a 5-on-3 opportunity for 26 seconds. The leafs HAVE TO SCORE HERE late in the 2nd period!!! GOOOAL!!! the leafs are still on the Power Play too. Late in the 2nd, the leafs have to get the go-ahead-goal here. Keep this going! Antropov from Sundin and Kaberle. Stajan hits the crossbar and even raised his hands thinking it was in. A number of posts and crossbars in this game for the Leafs. So the game is tied heading into the 3rd period, but the Leafs need to stop trading chances, they have to stop hitting the posts and start putting it in the net – even strength, on the Power Play, or shorthanded. Whatever. This is pretty much it. 20 minutes in the 3rd period to win the game and pull within 5 points of the Bolts because TB is being blasted by Atlanta 6-1 after two periods. Shots on goal for the 2nd period: 20-7, overall: 38-14. Clearly, the Panthers will come out knowing that they are lucky to still be in this game and will make this a more even game in the 3rd period – bad news for the Leafs.

    3rd period: so at this point, Sundin has a 3-point game and is going to hit 70 points pretty soon. McCabe has 2 assists, so does Wellwood, Antropov and Kaberle both have points as well (Antropov is 2 away from 30 points and Kaberle passes Allison for 3rd on the team in points). But the important thing here is not statistical milestones. Simply, the leafs have to score first in the 3rd period and keep taking it to the Panthers. However, the names I just mentioned, have to keep performing – especially Sundin, Kaberle, and McCabe. It would be nice to see Stajan, Kilger, Steen, Wellwood, and O’Neill get some points considering how hard they’ve worked.

    But Nieuwendyk scores and gets the hat-trick. And you can see the headlines now. The Leafs just cannot seem to find the lead, and cannot seem to play well in their own end. Thankfully its early in the 3rd, but the leafs are just not doing themselves any favours and it just doesn’t make any sense. Every shift has to count now if they haven’t already. Power Play #7: the Leafs HAVE TO SCORE, NOW. And then take the lead. But first the Power Play early in the 3rd period. SCORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Take that Joe Nieuwyndyk .we DON’T NEED YOU. Sundin gets the hat-trick. Sundin’s 26th on the year – ties Tucker for the lead in goals (from Wellwood and McCabe – both have 3 points on the night ). Keep it going Mats! The goal comes on the 40th shot on goal, for the first time this year, the leafs have hit 40 shots. TB is losing 6-2.

    Now, how many times do I have to say this? THE LEAFS NEED TO TAKE THE F-ING LEAD! NOW!!!!

    But the leafs continue to trade chances. The Leafs get another Power Play – #8. What has marked this game is a simple pattern in which the Leafs tie it up, and get a glorious chance but hit the post or see McClennan make a great save. This power play should end this pattern. The Leafs have to score and make good on their chances, and then play better in their own end and stop trading chances. They cannot afford to do that in such an important game. But they do not score despite some good puck movement. A missed opportunity. With 10 minutes left, and 45 shots on goal for the Leafs, the Leafs have to SCORE NOW.

    And HOLY F&*&! 4 goals for MATS SUNDIN! An even-strength goal. And the leafs FINALLY HAVE THE LEAD! (Antropov – 29 points – and Berg). Mats Sundin has the team lead in goals and has the team lead with 70 points.

    Huge save by Aubin on the Penalty Kill. TB loses to Atlanta 6-2. The Leafs need to hang on. But not so fast. Florida scores on a “weird goal.” surprise, surprise.

    The Leafs have to keep pouring it on. They have to score the next goal and win this one. And they cannot wait for the shootout. But Steen gets a penalty late in the 3rd. And is this how its going to end. Obviously the leafs are desperate and need to kill this penalty. That is all there is to it. The leafs know how important this penalty kill is. The final 2 minutes of this game will be a PK for the Leafs – if they are lucky, they’ll go to OT tied at 5.

    And On To Overtime:

    The leafs have to score here. They just have to. They cannot go to the crapshoot that is the shootout and they know this from their 3-7 Shootout record and from their recent Shootout losses to Buffalo and Boston. Shots on goal: 47-25 for the Leafs (11-9 for the Panthers in the 3rd). Ponikorovsky gets a penalty – a boarding call. One that not only threatens to beat the leafs, but one that also takes at least 2 minutes off OT from the Leafs. A 4-3 in OT. The Leafs just seem to want to make this as hard on themselves as they can. But they do kill the penalty. Now there is only a minute in the half left in the OT. Lets see what the Leafs can do. Well, they can draw a penalty with 1:08 left in OT. Too bad this man-advantage cannot continue into the shootout. But the Leafs have to score HERE, the leafs have to score NOW.

    AND KABERLE SCORES WITH 11 SECONDS IN OT. A SIX POINT NIGHT FOR MATS SUNDIN. 52 SHOTS ON GOAL. UN-*****ING-BELIEVABLE.

    The Leafs have a lot of guys to build around. they have their franchise player: Mats Sundin. they have an offensive D-guy: Kaberle. they have their youngsters: Steen, Wellwood, Stajan, Poni (and if they decide to keep him: Antropov). they have the gritty guys who can score: Kilger, Tucker.

    The Leafs have 5 guys with 30 assists or more (3 with 40 or more).

    The Leafs have 7 guys closing in on 20 goals (Allison will be stuck at 17, Kilger has 16, Tucker, Poni, and Sundin are already there, and Steen and O’Neill are going to hit it).

    The Leafs have 5 guys around the 60-point mark (with Sundin at 71 points, and Tucker at 56).

    The Leafs have 7 players with 40 points or more (once you add in Steen and Wellwood).

    The Leafs have 10 players with 30 points or more (if you add in Poni, O’Neill – who might hit 40 points, and Antropov with 29 points).

    The Leafs have 13 guys with 20 points or more (Lindros, Stajan, Kilger – don’t forget that Stajan leads the NHL in PK points).

    This is not including the likes of White and Coliacovo who have a combined: 3 goals, 13 points, +6 in 28 games, and Jay Harrison who is a +5 in 8 games.

    as for the scenario:

    Sunday=======================

    Tampa must lose in Florida in regulation. CHECK

    Monday=======================

    Montreal must lose to Ottawa at home in regulation. NOPE

    Tuesday========================

    Thrashers must beat Bolts in regulation. CHECK

    Leafs must beat Panthers in any way they can. CHECK

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–41-28–9—————-91—-4

    Tampa Bay——–42-32–5—————-89—-3

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-39-32–7—————-85—-4

    TORONTO———-38-32–8—————-84—-4

    So why was this win so important tonight? Because someone yelled out in the locker room after Kaberle’s OT goal: ‘we are still alive boys.’ and that is it. this win keeps them believing, keeps them wanting to win, and the pressure is still off because no one thinks they will win. So the leafs are 5 points behind the Bolts with an extra game left to play on TB. They are also 7 points back of the Habs with 4 games left. the habs are pretty much out of reach. They are also one point behind the Thrashers.

    Now, its all about winning in Long Island – again, by any means necessary. THIS GAME is the game-in-hand on the Bolts, who play a home-and-home against Carolina on the weekend. if the leafs win this game, people are going to have to start talking about the Leafs maybe sneaking into the playoffs. THEY HAVE TO. why? 3 pts back with both teams having 3 games left.

    On Wednesday night=================

    Montreal must lose in Buffalo in regulation.

    This game seems inconsequential because the Habs are pretty much out of reach. But if they do lose this game, it sets up the very – far-fetched – possibility of the Habs losing in Boston the next night in regulation. if that happens, all of a sudden, the Habs have 2 games left, and 91 points, and each of those 2 games are at home against 2 tough teams. who knows?

    On Thursday night==================

    The leafs defeat the Isles and make up their game-in-hand on the Bolts by pulling to within 3 points of TB.

    Meanwhile, the Thrashers will likely keep pace by defeating the Caps at home for their 40th win of the year and they pull within 2 points of the Bolts.

    The Habs lose on the road in Boston in regulation for their second straight loss (yeah right).

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–41-30–9—————-91—-2

    Tampa Bay——–42-32–5—————-89—-3

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-40-32–7—————-87—-3

    TORONTO———-39-32–8—————-86—-3

    On Friday night=======================

    The Bolts lose their 3rd straight in regulation in Carolina as the Canes continue to pursue Ottawa for first in the East.

    Montreal———–41-30–9—————-91—-2

    Tampa Bay——–42-33–5—————-89—-2

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-40-32–7—————-87—-3

    TORONTO———-39-32–8—————-86—-3

    On Saturday night====================

    So, heading into Saturday night the Leafs still have an outside shot to make the playoffs and finally find a way to beat Ottawa for their 40th win of the year and their 4th straight win.

    The Thrashers also win against Boston at home.

    The Bolts lose in regulation to the Canes at home and have just one game left.

    Montreal loses at home in regulation to the Sabres and also have one game left.

    Montreal———–41-31–9—————-91—-1

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–5—————-89—-1

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-41-32–7—————-89—-2

    TORONTO———-40-32–8—————-88—-2

    On Sunday night=====================

    The Leafs manage to finally win in Buffalo – finally thrusting the Leafs into a playoff position.

    Montreal———–41-31–9—————-91—-1

    TORONTO———-41-32–8—————-90—-1

    ________________________________________

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–5—————-89—-1

    Atlanta————-41-32–7—————-89—-2

    On Monday night=====================

    The Thrashers defeat the Caps in Washington and this puts them temporarily ahead of the Habs, Bolts and Leafs.

    Now, all four teams have one game left and it all goes down the next night.

    Atlanta————-42-32–7—————-91—-1

    Montreal———–41-31–9—————-91—-1

    ________________________________________

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–5—————-89—-1

    TORONTO———-410-32–8—————-90—-1

    On Tuesday night=====================

    The Thrashers lose in Florida ending their playoff hopes. The Leafs win at home against the Pens, and the Bolts defeat the Caps, which puts Tampa Bay in the playoffs with 92 points. The Habs lose at home in regulation to the Devils. Finally, the Leafs clinch the 8th and final playoff spot with their 91st point. The Leafs get the tiebreaker over Montreal by virtue of wins (thank goodness since the Habs would have gotten the 2nd tiebreaker over the Leafs) and the 2nd tiebreaker over Atlanta as a result of their 4-0 record against the Thrashers this year.

    TORONTO———-42-32–8—————-92—-0

    Tampa Bay——–43-34–5—————-91—-0

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-42-33–7—————-91—-0

    Montreal———–41-32–9—————-91—-0

    So here are the games remaining===================================================================

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______TB______

    at Buff [79]———————————————————

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]—-Phil [80]————-

    ————————————————————-at Car [80]

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————–Car [81]

    ————–at Buff [81]———————Phil [81]———-

    ——————————-at Wash [81]———————-

    NJ [82]——Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]—Wash [82]

    And here are what these three teams must do if the leafs are to make the playoffs:

    _______Leafs_________TB__________ATL__________MTL_______

    Apr 10——————————————————-Ott (lose)—–

    Apr 11-Fld (win)———Atl (lose)——-at TB (win)——————–

    Apr 12——————————————————-at Buff (lose)

    Apr 13-at NYI (win)———————–Wash (win)—-at Bos (lose)

    Apr 14——————–at Car (lose)———————————

    Apr 15-Ott (win)———Car (OTL)–—–Bos (win)——Buff (loss)

    Apr 16-at Buf (win)—————————————————–

    Apr 17————————————-at Wash (win)———–

    Apr 18-Pens (win——–Wash (win)—-at Fld (lose)—-NJ (loss)

    In review———————————————————————————————————-

    Leafs: 5-0-0

    Bolts: 1-3-1

    ATL: 4-1

    Habs: 1-4

  22. 92-93 says:

    So the Habs lost in buffalo in regulation. Doesn’t change much, just opens the door just a little bit more. now the leafs need to keep winning – tomorrow on the Long Island and hope that the Thrashers, Bolts, and Habs lose their upcoming games.

    Sunday=======================

    Tampa must lose in Florida in regulation. CHECK

    Monday=======================

    Montreal must lose to Ottawa at home in regulation. NOPE

    Tuesday========================

    Thrashers must beat Bolts in regulation. CHECK

    Leafs must beat Panthers in any way they can. CHECK

    On Wednesday night=================

    Montreal must lose in Buffalo in regulation. CHECK

    This game seems inconsequential because the Habs are pretty much out of reach. But if they do lose this game, it sets up the very – far-fetched – possibility of the Habs losing in Boston the next night in regulation. if that happens, all of a sudden, the Habs have 2 games left, and 91 points, and each of those 2 games are at home against 2 tough teams. who knows?

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–41-29–9—————-91—-3

    Tampa Bay——–42-32–5—————-89—-3

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-39-32–7—————-85—-4

    TORONTO———-38-32–8—————-84—-4

    So the leafs are 5 points behind the Bolts with an extra game left to play on TB. They are also 7 points back of the Habs with an extra game left to play.. the habs are pretty much out of reach. The Leafs are also one point behind the Thrashers.

    On Thursday night==================

    The leafs defeat the Isles and make up their game-in-hand on the Bolts by pulling to within 3 points of TB.

    Meanwhile, the Thrashers will likely keep pace by defeating the Caps at home for their 40th win of the year and they pull within 2 points of the Bolts.

    The Habs lose on the road in Boston in regulation for their second straight loss (yeah right).

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–41-30–9—————-91—-2

    Tampa Bay——–42-32–5—————-89—-3

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-40-32–7—————-87—-3

    TORONTO———-39-32–8—————-86—-3

    On Friday night=======================

    The Bolts lose their 3rd straight in regulation in Carolina as the Canes continue to pursue Ottawa

    for first in the East.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–41-30–9—————-91—-2

    Tampa Bay——–42-33–5—————-89—-2

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-40-32–7—————-87—-3

    TORONTO———-39-32–8—————-86—-3

    On Saturday night====================

    So, heading into Saturday night the Leafs still have an outside shot to make the playoffs and finally find a way to beat Ottawa for their 40th win of the year and their 4th straight win.

    The Thrashers also win against Boston at home.

    The Bolts lose in regulation to the Canes at home and have just one game left.

    Montreal loses at home in regulation to the Sabres and also have one game left.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–41-31–9—————-91—-1

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–5—————-89—-1

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-41-32–7—————-89—-2

    TORONTO———-40-32–8—————-88—-2

    On Sunday night=====================

    The Leafs manage to finally win in Buffalo – finally thrusting the Leafs into a playoff position.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–41-31–9—————-91—-1

    TORONTO———-41-32–8—————-90—-1

    ________________________________________

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–5—————-89—-1

    Atlanta————-41-32–7—————-89—-2

    On Monday night=====================

    The Thrashers defeat the Caps in Washington and this puts them temporarily ahead of the Habs, Bolts and Leafs.

    Now, all four teams have one game left and it all goes down the next night.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Atlanta————-42-32–7—————-91—-1

    Montreal———–41-31–9—————-91—-1

    ________________________________________

    Tampa Bay——–42-34–5—————-89—-1

    TORONTO———-410-32–8—————-90—-1

    On Tuesday night=====================

    The Thrashers lose in Florida ending their playoff hopes. The Leafs win at home against the Pens, and the Bolts defeat the Caps, which puts Tampa Bay in the playoffs with 92 points. The Habs lose at home in regulation to the Devils. Finally, the Leafs clinch the 8th and final playoff spot with their 91st point. The Leafs get the tiebreaker over Montreal by virtue of wins (thank goodness since the Habs would have gotten the 2nd tiebreaker over the Leafs) and the 2nd tiebreaker over Atlanta as a result of their 4-0 record against the Thrashers this year.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    TORONTO———-42-32–8—————-92—-0

    Tampa Bay——–43-34–5—————-91—-0

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-42-33–7—————-91—-0

    Montreal———–41-32–9—————-91—-0

    So here are the games remaining===================================================================

    MON________TOR________ATL_______NJ_______TB______

    at Buff [79]———————————————————

    at Bos [80]—at NYI [79]—Wash [79]—-Phil [80]————-

    ————————————————————-at Car [80]

    Buff [81]——Ott [80]——Bos [80]——————–Car [81]

    ————–at Buff [81]———————Phil [81]———-

    ——————————-at Wash [81]———————-

    NJ [82]——Pitts [82]——at Fld [82]—at Mon [82]—Wash [82]

    And here are what these three teams must do if the leafs are to make the playoffs:

    _______Leafs_________TB__________ATL__________MTL_______

    Apr 10——————————————————-Ott (lose)—–

    Apr 11-Fld (win)———Atl (lose)——-at TB (win)——————–

    Apr 12——————————————————-at Buff (lose)

    Apr 13-at NYI (win)———————–Wash (win)—-at Bos (lose)

    Apr 14——————–at Car (lose)———————————

    Apr 15-Ott (win)———Car (OTL)–—–Bos (win)——Buff (loss)

    Apr 16-at Buf (win)—————————————————–

    Apr 17————————————-at Wash (win)———–

    Apr 18-Pens (win——–Wash (win)—-at Fld (lose)—-NJ (loss)

    In review———————————————————————————————————-

    Leafs: 5-0-0

    Bolts: 1-3-1

    ATL: 4-1

    Habs: 1-4

  23. 92-93 says:

    The Leafs looked awful tonight. Yet they still won, pulling – amazingly – within 3 points of TB with both teams having 3 games remaining. TB: Carolina, Carolina, Washington. Toronto: Ottawa, Buffalo, Pittsburgh. The wild card in all of this is Atlanta who also won tonight. The Thrashers are a point back of the Bolts with 3 ‘easy’ teams left to play. Unfortunately, the Bruins continue to do the leafs no favours losing their 3rd straight game in April to the Habs, enabling the Habs to officially and mathematically be out of reach of the leafs. The Bruins have single-handedly, um …. handed … the Habs a playoff spot and 6 points in April. Pathetic.

    The Leafs had no business winning this game and like their Florida game, they needlessly traded chances. Tonight’s game showed, however, just how good the leafs are down the middle for next year with solid performances from Sundin, Wellwood, and especially Stajan – with 2 goals and the OT winner. McCabe and Kaberle should NOT be playing side-by-side 5-on-5 and Berg and Belak have no business being in the league. If the Leafs even think about playing this way against either Buffalo or Ottawa, they are toast. Sundin continues to carry the team but it is probably too little too late for the entire team to start playing like their captain.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–42-29–9—————-93—-2

    Tampa Bay——–42-32–6—————-90—-2

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-40-32–7—————-87—-3

    TORONTO———-39-32–8—————-86—-3

  24. 92-93 says:

    By far the most impressive game by the Leafs of the year. It all seems so perfect. The Leafs finally beat Ottawa 5-1 after 2 previous games in which the Leafs deserved to win against the Sens but lost anyways, and after 3 blowout and 2 shootout losses. Everyone contributed to this win. Aubin looked solid, the D looked amazing and quick (except for the 3rd period). The Sens looked like the dangerous-but-beatable Sens of old. But it was all for not. The Leafs have entered their contests in the last week or so knowing that the could be mathematically eliminated.

    Tonight, finally, they were eliminated.

    Martin St. Louis scored the OT winner against the all-of-a-sudden-pathetic Carolina Hurricanes to officially eliminate the Leafs.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–42-30–9—————-93—-1

    Tampa Bay——–43-32–6—————-92—-1

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-41-32–7—————-89—-2

    TORONTO———-40-32–8—————-88—-2

    The leafs put themselves in this position – it’s true. But the fact that the Leafs are only now getting eliminated is a testament to this post-Montreal group’s resiliency. JFJ and Leaf fans should know that, after this 9-0-2 run, after acquiring 20 of a possible 22 points, this is the core group they have to build around (sans a few players). Sundin is the franchise guy. Tucker, Steen, Poni, Kilger, Wellwood, Stajan, Wilm can fulfill their respective roles. Kaberle is the guy to build around on D, with White making a solid case for next season. Aubin should be a solid back-up next season too. The pieces are there and those pieces that were missing during this 9-0-2 run – re: those players that either didn’t perform or were injured – should be kept out of the mix for next season …

    Domi and O’Neill have to make their decisions and depending on what they do, Suglobov, Battaglia, and Ondrus could all replace these guys. Despite his solid play of late, Antropov should be qualified and traded. Waive Belak (depending on Domi), goodbye Allison and Lindros. Hello John Pohl and a couple of free agent wingers. The Leafs D has Kaberle and a bunch of young guys: the aforementioned Ian White along with Harrison, Kronvall, Coliacovo. Not to mention Wozniewski, Bell, Vorobiev, and the possible return of Pilar. Goodbye Richardson, Berg, and Khavanov … and McCabe. The Leafs also signed Aubin to a one-way contract before the Isles game meaning that they have about 2.5 million tied up in goaltending (when you include Belfour’s buyout). Not bad. Trade Tellqvist and someone else for Toskala, and you have a solid tandem.

    In other words, the core and the future is set for the Leafs. This is a team that is 9 games over .500. This is not a bad team and the last 10 games are not the only reason why I am saying this. Before January and February, this team was inconsistent but still playoff-bound. The leafs have a lot to work with already. Nothing needs to be blown up, but significant changes do have to occur. And yes – there is a difference between ‘blowing up’ (re: trading Sundin, Kaberle, etc.) and ‘making significant changes.’

  25. 92-93 says:

    Not a surprise that the Leafs lost today in Buffalo. The gestures by Andrew Peters – and all of those individuals here on HTR who cheer such classless acts on along with the gestures of Kolvachuck towards Crosby, Alfredsson towards Sundin, etc. – not only display poor sportsmanship, a tasteless sense of humour, but are pathetic as well. Interesting that in all those years the Leafs clinched a playoff spot and took on a non-playoff team as the season winded down, they never made such comments or gestures. And yet they are considered the ‘sideshow’ of the NHL. Why? Because they are the Toronto Maple Leafs and that is the way it is. Everyone hates them and every time something significant happens to the Leafs, everyone else has to get in on it and if its positive for the Leafs, it is belittled, and if it is negative for the Leafs, it is approved without question or a critical mind. Such fans are too pathetic to focus on their own team, and their own team’s fortunes. I wish the Sabres a lot of luck even getting to the 2nd round of this year’s playoffs, something that the Leafs under Quinn have done 4 times.

    Classy acts aside, the Leafs blowed today. Sure they are deflated but such losses are one too many this year under Quinn. Today’s game shouldn’t be really grouped into the following losses but such losses are significant in terms of their sheer number and in the sense that the Leafs need a coach that won’t allow them to slack off like they did this year – ultimately costing them a playoff spot. Games against the Sabres, Senators, and those 2 games in Montreal – scores of 8-4, 6-2, 6-0 (Sabres), 7-0, 8-0, 8-1 (Senators), and 5-1, 6-2 (in Montreal) – are too pathetic and embarrassing and can not be considered ‘isolated incidents.’ it is time for Ferguson to be given his last year and his last shot next season and time for Quinn to leave the Leafs. Bring up Maurice. The bad habits, the cronyism, the era of the ‘players coach’ must come to an end. Players must be held accountable.

    In other (good) news, Kilger was signed to a 3-year 2.7 million contract. Not a bad deal even if it is lengthy. Kilger is a rock on the 3rd and 4th line on the left side. I like what Ferguson as done since the Montreal games. Mind you – he was FORCED to play the young guys more often and still didn’t bring up Kronvall and Harrison and waive Belak and Berg when he had the opportunity, nor did he keep Pohl up with the big club. I also have the feeling from some of the comments he has made that he will be resigning Richardson – bad idea. But so far, he has resigned Aubin and Kilger for cheap. Now he just has to quailify and trade Antropov and resign Wellwood, Pohl, and Stajan (I believe he already has Steen and Ponikorovsky under contract).

    The situation on O’Neill, Berg, and Domi are significant. Everyone is assuming Khavanov will be let go and I hope this is true but as Berg’s retirement – I’ll believe it when I see it. The same goes for Domi, who is now being revealed to have much more of a corrosive effect in the locker room then was initially perceived. Domi needs to go. And the only way he is forced out if he decides not to retire (and I don’t see Domi doing such a classy act) is if Quinn is fired and Tannebaum as well. Ferguson needs to be able to install his own coach – Maurice – who will not let Domi get away with what he gotten away with this year. Stajan sitting and Domi playing … this is THE embarrasment for the leafs this year and overshadows much of the progress they made with the youngsters this year. As for O’Neill – I have no ill will towards him at all. In fact, playing beside Stajan and Steen is good enough for me. Making 1.5 million, playing besides two younger, faster, defensively responsible players and yet still putting up 20 goals, 40 points a year is not something I find myself railing against. I hope he is able to return and able to return to playing beside these two guys. O’Neill is a solid 3rd line RW for the Leafs. But ONLY in that role, which is a very narrow one.

    I will be following the Marlies’ playoff series with more interest now that Robbie Earl has been signed and will be playing LW for them. Should be a treat next year watching this team even with all the call-ups to the Leafs. The Marlies will have Pogge and Racine in net, Vorobiev, Bell, Wozniewski (and probably one of White, Kronvall, Harrison) in their D, and Earl, Williams, Foster, and maybe one of Pohl, Ondrus, and Battaglia on their forward lines.

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–42-30–9—————-93—-1

    Tampa Bay——–43-32–6—————-92—-1

    ________________________________________

    Atlanta————-41-32–7—————-89—-2

    TORONTO———-40-33–8—————-88—-1

  26. 92-93 says:

    Surprisingly Atlanta lost last night enabling the Habs and Bolts to get into the playoffs. It also enables the Leafs to leaf-frog the Thrashers tonight for 9th in the East. It would be a hollow – and some would say detrimental – accomplishment for the Leafs. But to hit 41 wins, 90 points, and 8 games above .500 … and to be the best team in the East NOT to make the playoffs and one of the hottest teams ever to miss the post-season IS an accomplishment. Others would say that the Leafs taking over the 9th spot is also detrimental because they drop a drafting position. The difference between drafting 12th and 13th overall in a draft that is supposed to be shallow or whatever is not that big of a deal in my mind.

    That is all the Leaf fans have at this point … hollow accomplishments. But they are not as hollow as they sound. They should signify to themselves and everyone else that the Leafs were not as bad as people said they were and they have a strong core to build around and have some tradeable commodities. Aetherial has suggested the old sign-and-trade with McCabe but that is only if McCabe signs for less than 5 million. I certainly think that it is a good idea for Antropov and Tellqvist, who both need to be qualified.

    Leaf fans also have a very interesting summer ahead of them. All of these questions need to ne answered by July 1st alone:

    Will the Leafs resign Richradson? [I hope not]

    Will they resign Khavanov? [I hope not]

    Will they resign McCabe? [I hope not]

    Will Berg retire? [I hope so]

    Will O’Neill retire? [I hope not]

    Will Domi retire? [I hope so]

    Will they waive Belak [I hope so but it is dependent on Domi’s decision and Ferguson’s intelligence]

    Will they resign Wilm? [I hope so]

    Will they qualify Antropov? [I hope so but only if they trade him]

    Will they qualify Telly? [I hope so but only if they trade him]

    Will they resign Allison? [I hope not]

    Will they resign Lindros?[I hope not]

    Will they sign Stajan? [they better]

    Will they sign Wellwood? [they better]

    Will they sign Pohl? [they better]

    After July 1st:

    Will they sign a couple of free agent wingers? [they better]

    Will they sign a one or two free agent D-guys? [they better]

    Which youngsters will make it at training camp?

    Who will be the coach of the Leafs?

    As for the game itself against Crosby and the Pens:

    It is fitting that with O’Neill and Antropov injured, the Leafs finally decide to bring up the likes of Williams and Pohl, the latter who got his 3rd goal in 7 games with the Leafs to open the scoring.

    1st line: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Mats Sundin, John Pohl

    2nd line: Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood, Alex Steen

    3rd line: Chad Kilger, Matt Stajan, Jeremy Williams

    4th line: Ben Ondrus, Clarke Wilm, Tie Domi

    Like the Leaf fortunes over the past few weeks – too little too late. but its good to see Pohl to put some emphasis that he belongs on this Leafs’ squad.

    I was hoping that Aubin would start, and hoped he’d win. So far so good. Other things I was hoping for in this game:

    I hope Sundin hits 30 goals and he did – along with a 4-point night. He seems to really being doing well with the kids playing and with Pohl.. I was hoping O’Neill, McCabe, and Steen hit 20 goals, but O’Neill was injured and neither Steen or McCabe could do it.

    I was hoping Kaberle would get his 10th goal and surpass McCabe for 2nd in team scoring (symbolic in my mind of how Kaberle overtakes McCabe as the new number one guy for the Leafs). Kaberle got an assist – his team-leading 58th – to pull within one point of McCabe for 2nd in the Leafs scoring department.

    I was hoping that White, Steen, and Wellwood continue to rack up the points, I hope O’Neill gets his 40th point, and Kilger and Stajan their 30th point.

    Steen added another point – his 45th point – tying him with his teammate Wellwood for 9th overall in rookie scoring. Jeremy Williams also got his first NHL goal in his first NHL game.

    Aki Berg, with 54 additional games, finally surpassed Carlo Coliacovo with his 8th point of the year … the latter getting 7 points in just 21 games, hit more, and was better in his own zone. hopefully he’ll be back next year, stay healthy, and Berg will be long gone.

    FINAL STANDINGS:

    ———————W–L–OTL————–Pts—GR

    Montreal———–43-30–9—————-95—-0

    Tampa Bay——–43-33–6—————-92—-0

    ________________________________________

    TORONTO———-41-33–8—————-90—-0

    Atlanta————-41-33–8—————-90—-0

    The Leafs’ final record and ranking in the East is:

    41-33–8, 90 points in 82 games – ranked 9th (ahead of Atlanta due to the season series: 4-0 vs Atlanta).

    In retrospect, even if the Leafs pick up 24 out of a possible 24 points in their 12 post-Montreal games (as opposed to the 20 points they picked up), they still would have finished with 94 points, 2 ahead of TB for the 8th and final playoff spot. in other words, the leafs had to steal 23 of 24 points to make it – absolutely insane. What this does is it takes the emphasis and focus off of the Montreal games, which have received way too much credit for eliminating the Leafs. I would even go so far as to go beyond the Leafs’ performance in January and February and point to a much more broader and more accurate factor: the inconsistent play of the Leafs throughout this year – including during their win streaks – AND the incapability of JFJ and Quinn to play their young guys and reprimand their veterans who did not perform well.

    People will point to the times when Quinn sat Domi and O’Neill. But he did so too late and did so too little. Such benchings should have been much more widespread as well. Tucker’s lack of effort in his own end was enough to bench him 20 times this year. McCabe’s ineptness along with Khavanov and Berg’s could have warranted some bench time, regardless of the offensive contributions of McCabe and Tucker. Allison could be added to this list as well. The Leafs lack of success this year really comes down to 3 words: accountability, transition, and hyperbole.

    Accountability because the Leafs were not held to it. Vets were played regardless of their play and only in rare instances were they benched. Seeing Stajan get benched was – to me – the final straw for my support of Quinn.

    Transition because it is a transition year. The Leafs were supposed to be an inconsistent and unpredictable .500 team that finished between 5th and 10th in the East and that is exactly what they were. There were in a worse position from an organizational-prospect standpoint then the other big spenders heading into the cap era. They did incorporate the young guys and could have incorporated more. There were numerous positive out of this year. For people to call for JFJ’s head is premature – although I do think that next year should be his last as a GM if we do not see the Leafs improve on this year. Next year is supposed to be the upswing of the transition period that sees the next wave of youngsters, some solid free agent signings (that are supposed to be better than last offeseason’s because of the cap space). Next year is suppose to see the necessary deletions made (deletions that were not made in the last offseason and trade deadline), and this year’s group of young players excel and take it to the next level. If JFJ is incapable of doing such things, time to let him go.

    Hyperbole because we are talking about the Toronto Maple Leafs – the most loved and hated franchise in hockey. Because of such extremes, it is often impossible for people to discuss the team in a rational manner or in the proper perspective. The leafs are not as good as some leaf fans give them credit for. But they are certainly not as bad as others of accused them of being.

    Their record: 41-33-8 – 90 points.

    Their pre-shootout record would have been: 38-34-10 – 86 points.

    5 of the 7 months the leafs were a team that was above .500.

    In other words – the criticism and credit surrounding the Leafs is full of hyperbole.

    If you look at the core group of players – you are pretty much looking at the Leafs’ top scorers: Kaberle, Tucker, Sundin (exclude McCabe and Allison).

    Add in the young forwards – Poni, Stajan, Steen, Wellwood – who put up an average of 35 points and the young defencemen – Coliacovo, White, Harrison, Kronvall – and you have a pretty solid core that takes up much of the roster space.

    _________————–Sundin—————–Tucker

    Ponikorovsky———Wellwood—————______

    Steen——————–Stajan—————–______

    Kilger——————–______—————-______

    ————-Kaberle—————–Colicacovo——–

    ————-Kronvall—————-________———-

    ————-White——————-Harrison———–

    ————————–________———————-

    —————————[Aubin]————————

    Of course, you could say that is doubtful that the Leafs will use four rookie D-guys but I hope they do. But lets throw in Pilar as a seventh defencemen. Then lets assume that the Toskala-Antropov/Tellqvist/draft pick trade occurs, lets assume that Elias, McKee, and Carter are signed as free agents, lets assume that Domi retires, O’Neill does not retire, and lets assume that the Pohl and Battaglia make the team and that Wilm is resigned:

    ELIAS——————-Sundin——————Tucker

    Ponikorovsky———Wellwood—————CARTER

    Steen——————–Stajan—————-O’NEILL

    Kilger——————–POHL————-BATTAGLIA

    [WILM, BELAK]

    ————-Kaberle—————–Colicacovo——–

    ————-Kronvall—————-MCKEE————-

    ————-White——————-Harrison———–

    ————————–TOSKALA———————-

    —————————[Aubin]————————

    If O’Neill does retire – you’ve got Suglobov and Williams that could come up.

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