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Countdown to February 26th

First off, here's some great news for a former Leafs GM as JFJ got a job! He'll be taking part in a few segments but most notably a "GMs' Corner" with Mike Milbury in which I can only assume they'll look at the camera quizzically as trades are made. They will then explain how they would have made the trade and people at home will laugh. It won't be quite vaudevillian but it won't be any funnier than having Eklund making up trades. Your move Sportsnet.

On to the real purpose of this post which is to figure out just how likely it is that the Leafs will continue to play their way out of a top 5 draft pick and into a playoff race that will inevitably end in heartbreak. After the jump I have compiled the remaining schedules between today and the morning of the 26th (deadline day) as well as each team's record against those opponents. It will give us a rough idea of which teams look well placed to continue their move up the playoff ladder (this will disappoint most of us) and which are screwed (I'll save you the suspense, it's the Panthers and the Thrashers). Of course, this highly scientific method does not take into account current form so even though the Islanders look well placed they are not really because they are in a slump.

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This table is pretty big right now but I'll update it each day and as the games are played the table will shrink. In terms of games played, by the deadline the Leafs and the rest of the crew will be within a game of each other so the uncertainty in that respect will be largely removed.

Looking at each team's record against their upcoming opponents the Thrashers and Panthers have to be worried. Nevermind the effect that just losing Zednik will have on the team but the mental impact of seeing a teammate almost die in front of them could have a huge effect on them going forward. The Thrashers are lucky to be in the Southeast so they are not really that far out of things but these next few games could decide what moves are made. Also, keep in mind that they are trying to negotiate an extension with Marian Hossa. Failing that they'll have to move him so who knows how the uncertainty will change the team's mentality.

The Bruins also look to be in tough shape although they will hit the deadline with at least two games in hand on the other teams. Their mark of 5-7-2 against their opponents this year is not bad but take away that 3-0-1 against the Leafs and the suddenly look very vulnerable.

As for the Leafs, their record against their opponents looks pretty good. Take out the 0-3-1 record against the Bruins adn it looks like that of a team poised to make a move. Toss in their big wins last week and would 4-1 or 5-0 over this stretch surprise anyone? On the other hand, would 0-5 or 1-4 be that much of a stretch? Either way, with reports of Sunding waiving his no-trade clause for certain teams the next 5 games will play a huge role in his decision. The way that they interplay with the other results could leave the Leafs within touching distance of a playoff spot or back in the comfy grip of a top 5 draft pick. The latter would be better for the Leafs but the former would likely cause Sundin to stick around.

So buckle up as tonight the Bruins, Islanders, and Sabres are in action as underdogs in their games. This will be an eventful two weeks.