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[Open Thread] Toronto Maple Leafs v. St. Louis Blues

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The entire season before the All-Star game has been building to this moment: The SPG Contest. Wall Daddy once again comes through with a poster for the winner. Maple Leaf Blue, yours is in the mail for coming closest to the official firing of JFJ. The rules for this one are simple. Each game in the open thread you have to post your guesses for the Leafs' player that will take the first shot, take the first penalty, and score the first goal. You get one point for each correct guess and the winner gets this:

Of course, no contest is complete without a booby prize so whoever comes in last gets this poster:
Now, I don't want a horde of McCabe fans to make one crazy set of picks to finish last so you have to play at least 15 times. Any ties will be broken by a fan-testing question.

As for the game, Brad Boyes is in town which only serves to highlight how the sins of the father (trading picks when the Leaf could pay to replace them) are revisited on the son, so to speak. Other ominous signs for the Leafs, the Blues are on a seven-game losing streak and have a 30th ranked powerplay. Some possible lineup changes (no more guessing) might include Wellwood getting recalled and Carlo relegating Make-A-Wish to the press box. Sadly, the latter will return eventually once he adjusts his voodoo doll. Maybe Belak will be in the lineup or maybe the Blues will run Leafs all over the ice. Look out Jiri!

In other news, TSN takes a look at the Canadian teams' chances and are impressed with the Canadiens. Here's a flash from the past, last year after 49 games they had 59 points. This year they have 60. If that team has proven anything it's that they can find a way to lose. Maybe they make the playoffs and maybe they lose in the first round. Either way, whoopdedoo. The bothersome point in that article is that there is once again a mention that the Leafs are 6 points out of a playoff spot. There is also a game in hand there too so it's more like 8 points.

To even fathom a push for the playoffs in the 13 games (including tonight) before the trade deadline you would have to assume at least 6 points have to be made up on 8th place. In those games the Leafs play: St. Louis, Carolina, ottawa, Florida, Montreal, Detroit, Buffalo, NY Islander, Boston, Columbus, Buffalo, Atlanta, ottawa. There are 26 points available and based on the season thus far the Leafs can expect to pick up 12 or 13 points which would lift them to 60 on the year. Or another way of looking at it is that over the same calendar period here are the points totals that other teams would need to push the Leafs from their theoretical playoff spot: New Jersey - 2, Pittsburgh - 3, Boston - 6, NY Islanders - 7,  NY Rangers - 7, Washington  - 10, Atlanta - 11, Florida - 12, and Buffalo - 13.

Obviously, not all of the teams would pick up those points totals but considering that four are in the Atlantic, three are in the Southeast, and only two are in the Northeast the Leafs would be counting heavily on games not making it to overtime and on one of those teams to get hot while the others languish. In other words, the odds are 3%. As an interesting side-note, normally this would be the time for the Leafs to make a push as 9 of their next 13 games are at the ACC but based on this year they could only expect to pick up 10 points (27 points out of 48 available). For the road games, they could expect 3 points (21 out of 54 available). Is meeting those expectations enough? Not likely. Is it worth the gamble? No way.

Finally, Howard Berger writes that all of the insane Leaf fans expecting to get Toews and Kane for McCabe should probably bank on buy-outs. As a last resort maybe but even then that does nothing but handicap the team just when they are in theory once again going to need money. Not to mention that Leaf fans aren't dreaming up insane trade moves members of the traditional media are doing enough of the day-dreaming for both sides. Leafs fans just want anything in return - Pucks, pylons (just kidding, the Leafs already have a few of those), whistles, first round draft picks acquired from Edmonton - basically anything that teams have lying around and don't need.

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.