Last time on Six in Five, I talked about discarding that benchmark altogether because the Leafs were flirting hard with 1.3 points per game. Six points per five games is 1.2 points per game. They needed 8.5 points out of the last five games to get to 1.3, and they nearly did it:
Eight points in five games gives the Leafs 97 in total, which over 75 games is 1.29 points per game. While it should be easier to beat teams at this time of year when most of them aren’t playing for much, the outlook before this set started didn’t look primed for eight points to just drop into their lap, so well done.
This is how the season has gone in a rolling five game set:
The Leafs success from game 50 on eclipses last year’s big push to the finish, and we haven’t even finished yet. And the biggest difference in the team is that this year they’ve had injuries, when last year they rarely did.
Let’s look at that cumulative graph again, now with the benchmark set to 1.3 points per game. This will give us an idea of how close they’ve been to that throughout the season while we’ve been talking about the lower bar of 1.2.
So close. It sure seems like this is the pace we can expect a team to meet to finish in the top one or two spots in their division most of the time. This season has been unusual for the fact that the Leafs are still ahead of every Metropolitan Division team, and could finish the season there.
The 1.3 points pace (6.5 in 5 doesn’t have much of a ring to it) gives you 106.6 points on a season, so if that comes to pass, the Leafs will have beat their best ever season, and will still be in third place in the Atlantic.
Boston is at 1.4 points per game right now, and Tampa is at 1.41. Nashville leads at 1.43.
Florida, who still have not sat in a wild card spot, but whom some Leafs fans thought would overtake are at 1.13. So, that overtaking was never going to happen. Not that any team really keeps to a set pace, and disasters happen, but still.
Enough of the past! Onward to the least exciting seven games of the season! Let’s be honest, it’s not really the best part of the hockey season if you aren’t in a race.
The goal is nine points for the seven games and an extra half to catch up. So, let’s say nine is close enough and 10 is overachieving
We begin by welcoming Buffalo on Monday, and not for the last time. Florida follows on Wednesday, and then, because this schedule is dumb, there is the last back-to-back. Friday the Leafs are in Brooklyn to play the Islanders, and then the come home for a Saturday game against the Amish Assassin and the rest of the Jets.
Next week, Buffalo comes again on Monday, you know as if Monday isn’t bad enough, we keep having the Sabres over. Why are we doing this? The Leafs travel to New Jersey on April 5 to commemorate the game there in 2016 that clinched last place and brought us Auston Matthews, and then to cap off the season with a barn burner of excitement (or so they likely thought when making this schedule) the Leafs play Montréal on Saturday at home.
I can see 10 points there. But you never know with hockey, that’s why they make you play them.
We’ll have one more edition of Nine in Seven (hmmm, that’s not bad) on or around the last game of the season.