It’s that time again already. Another five game set has passed, and we can look at the points pace so far this year. Coming off a slump-busting 8-1 win, everyone feels great heading into yet another back half of a back-to-back set tonight, but the slump hurt. Well, it hurt a little.

A three-game winless streak didn’t help, but the Leafs still got four points, enough to give them 43 on the season and stay one over the six-in-five pace. The Boston Bruins are playing very well lately, and they have 39 points, and three games in hand. We’ll need to get used to that, since they keep three games in hand for months.

The Leafs are still on a pace for 100 points, and really do have that second place in the Atlantic firmly in hand.  For now. Every season has ups and downs, and the usual method to get in the playoffs is to limit the downs.

You can see last year’s ups and downs on the line graph. And you can see that this most recent decline by the Leafs was pretty minor.

Up next in games 36-40 is the Christmas break, some road trips, and — you won’t believe this part — another back-to-back.

First up is tonight against Columbus on the road, and then the Leafs get to spend two days travelling/coming home before a game in New York against the Rangers on December 23.

That is the last day to send down players who were called up after December 11, and are not subject to the Holiday Roster Freeze.  Those players are: Kasperi Kapanen and Martin Marincin.

After the three-day Christmas break, the Leafs are back on the 27th to travel to Arizona for the game on the 28th which is when the freeze ends and all returns to normal. We’ll just all pretend Auston Matthews isn’t already in Arizona waiting, but we’ll hope he’s ready to play.  The Leafs play the Coyotes on the 28th, go to Denver to play the Avs on the 29th and get a whole day off before they hit Vegas for New Year’s Eve.  That’s a 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time start, so plan your evening accordingly.

I personally believe the Leafs need to call up Calvin Pickard for this trip so he can clean out all his storage units in all the places he used to live, but that does seem logistically unlikely. For now.

This is a tough trip for travel, but perhaps not for quality of competition. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, God Jul, Hyvää Joulua, and Bah, Humbug, Leafs.  You get a road trip for the holiday season!

And so do we, so have some Christmas music from a chorus in Arizona:

See you next time on New Year’s Day!