"Panic time" - That was the text I got as soon as last night's game ended. The loss to the Nashville Predators left the Maple Leafs' record at Last season began to go off the rails in November when they posted a 3-7-3 record. They have a tough schedule to close out the month:
Saturday, November 19 vs Washington
Sunday, November 20 at Carolina
Tuesday, November 22 at Tampa Bay
Friday, November 25 at Dallas
Saturday, November 27 at Anaheim
Wednesday, November 30 vs Boston
Their record this month stands at 3-4-1 but the team is slowly falling apart. As Chemmy noted, the injuries are piling up: Mikhail Grabovski is out at least
a month two weeks, James Reimer has been out for more than the three days he was supposed to be, Clarke MacArthur has a mystery injury, Matthew Lombardi took a face-off and his arm fell off, and Mike Komisarek angered the hockey gods by playing well and was promptly smited.
Before the season started, we held a poll to try to crowd source where people thought that the Leafs would finish up. 73% thought that the team would finish between 7th and 10th in the East. Since the lockout, 8th place has averaged 92 points or 1.15 points per game. After 19 games (or about a quarter of the season), the Leafs have 22 points. That works out to 1.16 points per game which would be good enough for 95 points or the highest total that an 8th placed team has racked up since the lockout.
Are there reasons to worry? Absolutely.Are the Leafs right where we expected them to be? Sure are. They've done that with their number one goalie playing only 5 games, their # 1 centre missing two thirds of their games, the "best second line in hockey" sputtering along, and now with injuries piling up. The period through to the New Year might represent the toughest stretch for the buds in light of these injuries. The Leafs' strong start gave them a bit of a buffer to deal with these injuries but they've essentially worked off that buffer. Then again, it's not likely that their playoff push will find itself in as dire straits as it was the last time we were still waiting on James Reimer. The Leafs would have to go 3-12-2 to have the same record on December 31 that they had in 2010. I guess that's a bright side.