With 19 games remaining on the schedule for our beloved Maple Leafs, and a 0.009% chance of making the playoffs, we hit the second consecutive year not making the playoffs, and 10th out of the past 11 seasons.
What do we have to cheer for now? A good draft pick of course. At the moment the Leafs are in 27th place, 18 points ahead of the Sabres for last and a guarantee of Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid (or really outdoing the Biggs trade up and taking Lawson Crouse). At 27th they have a 9.5% chance of taking the #1 overall pick.
I’m not suggesting anyone cheer against the Leafs, but who do we want to win to make our odds better and protect our draft?
Let’s take a look:
Nashville Predators at New Jersey Devils
Favourable Result: New Jersey over Nashville in Regulation
The Leafs hold the Predators 1st round pick this year, which is in the 26-30 range (26th overall if they’re out of the playoffs in round 1 or 2, 27-30 based on playoff results). The Devils are 7 points ahead of the Leafs in the standings. We want Nashville to lose, be closer to falling out of 1st overall in the NHL, lowering that pick to 25th, and the security of the Devils getting 2 points.
Calgary Flames at Philadelphia Flyers
Favourable Result: Philadelphia Flyers over Calgary in Overtime
Calgary is 16th in the NHL, and clinging to that last Pacific Division playoff spot and 15 points ahead of the Leafs in league standings. Philadelphia is 6 points back of the last Eastern Wild Card spot and 10 points up on the Leafs. A win for Philly in overtime is best, it gets both teams a point, and Philly one more since they are closer to us in the standings.
Washington Capitals at Columbus Blue Jackets
Favourable Result: Columbus over Washington in Regulation
Columbus is only 1 point ahead of the Leafs in the standings, so a win for them is a must. Beating Washington in regulation keeps the Caps at 78 points and hope alive for the Panthers and Bruins to stay fighting for a wild card spot.
Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning
Favourable Result: Buffalo over Tampa Bay in Overtime
A Sabres win is a must (sorry Achariya). Giving TB the overtime point puts them 1 closer to Montreal for 1st in the East and 6 closer to Nashville for 1st overall.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers
Draft Favourable Result: Florida over Toronto in Regulation
Again, I’m not telling anyone to cheer for a loss, but for drafting, Florida beating Toronto and not leaving the Leafs any points is best for drafting. It would also tie Florida with Boston for the last East Wild Card spot, and who doesn’t want Florida in the playoffs over the Bruins?
Ottawa Senators at Minnesota Wild
Favourable Result: Ottawa over Minnesota in Overtime
Ottawa is 9 points over the Leafs in the standings, and a win here puts in double digit territory. A point for the Wild to help them hold onto WC2 in the west.
New York Islanders at Dallas Stars
Favourable Result: Dallas over NY Islanders in Overtime
Like the Sens, the Stars are 9 points up on the Leafs, so we want them to take 2 points out of this. The isles don’t need any points to help the Leafs, but whatever makes their pick worse for Buffalo is what I want.
Anaheim Ducks at Arizona Coyotes
Favourable Result: Arizona over Anaheim in Overtime
Same scenario that we see with the Sabres/Lightning. Arizona needs 2 points since they are 8 behind Toronto in 28th place, and give the Ducks a point to close that 2 point gap with Nashville.
Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers
Favourable Result: Edmonton over LA in Overtime
I’m repeating myself now but Edmonton is 9 points before Toronto in 29th place, so 2 points for them and 1 for the Kings to keep in the WC race.
San Jose Sharks at Vancouver Canucks
Favourable Result: San Jose over Vancouver in Overtime
Just give everyone in the West 1 point tonight. Both of these teams are way ahead of the Leafs (SJ 15 points, Vancouver 20) but will be fighting for the playoffs. Either way if one of them misses those extra points will keep them away from us.
It’s a busy night tonight, so let’s hope most of these games go in our favour. If we can catch up to (fall to?) Arizona we can jump to 11.5% of winning the lottery.