Six in Five is here at 25 games deep into the season to see how the Leafs are doing. Six points in five games works out to 98 points over 82 games, which is usually more than enough to get you in the playoffs without need of any wildcard.
The Leafs banked some points in their last five-game stretch, taking the maximum of ten. This time, with the first “loser point” of the season, they took five points, or nearly enough to meet the quota, so for Black Friday shopping, that’s like going to ten stores and buying a new phone charger and nothing else.
The total is 31 points right now or one point over the six-in-five pace. It feels like the Leafs are struggling mightily at times, and yet they’ve only had one bad five game stretch in the first quarter plus a bit of the season.
Compared to last year, you can see that the team has sat at the max of 10 twice, something they never did last year, and they have never dipped below two points. If this points pace holds (there is no reason to think either that it will or it won’t, by the way) the Leafs will finish at 101 points.
The standings before Sunday’s games have the Leafs second in the Atlantic, and seventh in the league. Everyone in front of them has games in hand, however, and only one team in the NHL has played more games than the Leafs. This means teams can and will overtake the Leafs league wide, but it also means the schedule will ease up.
By ROW (regular or overtime wins) count, the Leafs are even higher in league standings. They have been either winning or losing on their own merits and not collecting up overtime loser points or shootout wins like a certain team also from Ontario. A look at the bottom of the standings by ROW shows Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa and Montréal all lined up just above Arizona with six, seven or eight ROW. There’s a few other badly-performing teams on the list and then Boston and Detroit show up with eight and nine. The Leafs have 14, Tampa has 15.
The Atlantic is a two-horse raise right now with a wide-open shot at third place, and that makes it seem like a total collapse would be required for the Leafs to not come in at least top three. This also means it really is plausible that Detroit makes the playoffs.
That was the world that was, now onto the future. The bank account is really low, so winning is advised.
The Leafs are going west! Not the scary west in California, this is the other west, as in Alberta and BC. First up is Calgary, who are sitting third in the Pacific largely due to the slow start of the Sharks. Then comes the Oilers who are, well, that’s a loooong story. But playing a team that’s trying to prove itself is not an easy task. After that is Vancouver, who are weirdly one of the better teams in the Pacific on paper. Suffice it to say, the Pacific division is on another planet where it’s perfectly reasonable that Vegas is in the lead.
After the Leafs play in Vancouver, they fly home to face the Flames again after a nice three-day break. Then they go to Pittsburgh to decide once and for all which team can outscore their defence the best.
All of the travel is easy with days off in between, and this is a nice friendly schedule at a pace spread out over two weeks that won’t exhaust anyone, not even us trying to recap these games.
The Penguins game is the first of a back to back, with the Leafs coming home to face the Oilers after. For everyone who wants a goalie change, there’s no real need to hurry on that.
The next edition of Six in Five will be December 10, before that Oilers game.