While the official halfway mark of the season was a few weeks ago when game 41 was played, I usually look at the All-Star break as the midway point to the Leafs season. It just feels like a good dividing point, especially when combined with the bye-week.
With the Leafs sitting on the outside of the playoffs right now, they’ll need to win more games than they lose from here on out. It’s this kind of insight that keeps you coming back here. I’m not here to tell you how they should go about doing that (score more goals than the other guys), but just to take a peek at what we’re expecting to see from now until April.
First, the schedule:
Maple Leafs remaining 2020 schedule
|Feb. 5||NY Rangers||Away||1-1|
|Feb. 25||Tampa Bay||Away||0-1|
|Mar. 3||San Jose||Away||1-0|
|Mar. 5||Los Angeles||Away||1-0|
|Mar. 10||Tampa Bay||Home||0-1|
|Mar. 17||New Jersey||Home||2-0|
|Mar 19||NY Islanders||Home||1-1|
|Mar. 25||Tampa Bay||Away||0-1|
There are 33 games remaining on the schedule, with three more back-to-backs on their way, so that’s something to look forward to. Home and away games are almost split down the middle, but since it’s an odd number we have one more away game than home. All of the back to back games are away games, funny enough.
The race for the playoffs is most concerning, and any win will help with this but wins against Eastern Conference opponents are more important than wins over Western, and wins against Atlantic Division are more important than wins over Metro opponents. This is very good analysis, people.
Breaking down their opponents, the Leafs don’t have a lot of games to take a rest on:
Two thirds of their opponents come from the Eastern Conference, and of those we see the majority are in division games.
The divisional games break down like so:
vs Tampa Bay Lightning: 1 home, 2 away
vs Florida Panthers: 2 home, 1 away
vs Boston Bruins: 1 away
vs Montreal Canadiens: 1 home, 1 away
vs Buffalo Sabres: 1 “away”
vs Ottawa Senators: 1 home, 2 “away”
vs Detroit Red Wings: 1 home
The Leafs also have two back to backs that are just with divisional opponents - Feb. 15th in Ottawa and Feb. 16th in Buffalo - and one more that starts in division - March 25th in Tampa - before moving on to a Metro Division opponent who the Leafs could be fighting for a wild card spot with - March 26th in Carolina. The other back to back is on the California road trip - March 5th in LA and March 6th in Anaheim.
Right now the Leafs are two spots back of a wild card playoff spot, which are currently occupied by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes. Like the divisional games being must wins, they have a lot of games against the teams they’re chasing.
I excluded Western Conference teams from this pie of course.
There is no easy path to the playoffs for the Maple Leafs, no chance to take their foot off the gas, give less than 110%, and every other sports cliche out there.
We can’t have any more games like the game against the Blackhawks, or the trip to Florida. All out from here on out.