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Toronto Maple Leafs v. Washington Capitals

The first game of the post-JFJ era goes at home against the Capitals in the first half of a home-and-home, back-to-back set. It's tough to cheer against the Leafs but two losses in these games (regulation ones please!) could be the final nails in the coffin and kill any faint glimmer of hope that the most ardent fans might possess.

The Leafs are currently 7 points out of the playoffs with one game played more than the 8th placed team (Boston). They are in trouble according to Mirtle's Patented Playoff Push where they need to go 22-11-0 to reach the 90 point plateau and things look that much bleaker when you take a look at The Forechecker's Super Schedule (it's alliteration day) which shows the Leafs as having the 7th toughest remaining schedule in the NHL and toughest in the Eastern Conference.

Luckily for us, this is not the Crapitals team that killed the buds 7-1 early in the season. Since their coaching change they are 16-7-4 and are rising fast. They are within touching distance of the Southeast division lead and third place in the Eastern Conference.

Hopefully the Leafs play an entertaining game and fall just short but it's important that the gap between them and 8th place open as much as possible as quickly as possible. That will make it that much easier for Fletcher to convince Mats to accept a trade to stock up the Leafs' prospects. Mats has repeatedly said that he doesn't want to be traded and that he loves Toronto but if he really loves the Leafs he'll accept a trade at the deadline, just this once.

Remember to put your guesses for who will score take the first shot, get the first penalty, and score the first goal in the comments. I'll keep a running tally of the results in the right sidebar. If you're new to the site and want to take part, try it out because I'll be running a contest until the end of the year after the all-star break.

As always, the comment section is a wonderful place to vent and rage between periods or make hopeful predictions that you can tout in the future if they happen to come to pass. Each period and overtime/shootout gets their own section so just reply to the relevant section's main post. There have been a lot of new visitors of the last few days so if you want to comment all you have to do is set up an account so register and share your thoughts.