The Maple Leafs are coming off a great run of wins which has put them back in the black! With 55 games played, they need 66 points to be at Mike Babcock’s six points in five games pace, and they have done that plus added one for insurance.
After a long run at just under the 1.2 points per game rate, the six in five pace, the Leafs broke out with a strong set of wins. They are now on pace for 100 points.
When you look at the standings — and just don’t is my advice — you see all three Atlantic teams stationary in their positions. The Boston Bruins have a lot more games to play than the Leafs, and Tampa has a few more. All that means is the Leafs have a lighter, more measured schedule down the stretch. Forget games in hand, the goal now is to play at a peak level for the next however many weeks.
There are three Atlantic teams 17 points behind the Leafs, and it’s time to say with finality that none of them can make it to the playoffs, not even by somehow getting in the crowded wild card race.
The next set of five games starts tomorrow with a home game against Nashville. Then the Leafs have the kind of schedule they should always have: a game every second or third day. They stay home for Ottawa, Tampa and Columbus and then go on the road to Pittsburgh on Saturday, February 17. That’s the first of a back-to-back, with the second half being in Detroit on Sunday.
That’s a mixed bag of games, with some good teams, some very good teams, one desperately bad team, and Columbus who can’t decide if they really want in the playoffs this year or if they just want to lose a lot down the stretch.
The key to six in five, though, and the reason it’s even a thing worth looking at is, that you have to beat the good teams as well as the New York Rangers. We’ll see how the Leafs do mostly at home. With one point in the bank, they need five to keep on the pace to 98 points.
We’ll meet back here on the 18th for the next six in five, and look forward to another set of five games — the really interesting ones that ends on trade deadline day.