Today is March 25th. The NHL season ends on April 6th. Between now and then the Toronto Maple Leafs will play seven games and only three are against teams that will make the NHL playoffs.
This week the Maple Leafs play against three teams out of the playoffs or hanging by a thread:
Tonight they host the Florida Panthers who are ten points out of a wild card playoff spot. They aren’t officially eliminated; if they go on a seven game win streak, those fourteen points could get them a playoff spot.
Wednesday night the Leafs head to Philadelphia to play the Flyers. The Flyers are eight points back of the Montreal Canadiens, and have six games left to play.
After a two day break the Maple Leafs go to Ottawa again for another Saturday night game against the Ottawa Senators. The Senators are dead last in the league and have nothing else to play for aside from pride I guess. I’m sure the dozen or so Sens fans in attendance will be thrilled if they can get a win over the Leafs again.
Next Monday it’s an April Fools game in New York to play the Islanders again. It’s game one of a back to back, so Andersen should get that start. The Islanders sit second in the Metro Division, four points ahead of the Hurricanes who are in the first wild card spot.
The next night the Maple Leafs host the Hurricanes, who hold a wild card spot with only a five point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets who are desperately trying to make the playoffs after their deadline moves.
Thursday night is a huge pre-playoff test for the Maple Leafs, as their final home game of the season is hosting the Presidents Trophy winners Tampa Bay Lightning.
Finally, the season wraps up in Montreal against the Canadiens. They should come out swinging hard against the Maple Leafs - their playoffs chances may depend on it. They’re currently in the second wild card spot with a slim two point lead over the Blue Jackets.
With the Maple Leafs playing so many teams on the edge of the playoffs, the question becomes: How seriously do they take things?
The Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division, seven points back of the Boston Bruins. Home ice in round one is far, far away. Unless the Bruins go on a big losing streak, it’s most likely not going to happen.
A few Leafs have had bumps and bruises over the season; Frederik Andersen could probably go with taking the majority of these games off. Maybe even call up Micheal Hutchinson to play back up and really give Freddie a few days of true rest.
We don’t know the full extent of how bruised John Tavares is after being hit by Marc Staal. Perhaps he could use some time off as well.
Anyone who’s played all of the Leafs games could also probably go for a day off the ice. Rest everyone you can. You have four call ups after the trade deadline ahead of the playoffs, use them now. Give some kids a look, give some vets some rest.
Two weeks to go.
Now, the news.
In case you missed it yesterday:
Oh no, no one has forgotten about the defense, don’t worry.
Hopefully once Dermott is back from injury he sees some quality ice time.
Is Babcock the wrong target?
Being in the middle of the country isn’t as great as it may sound.
The Calgary Inferno are the Clarkson Cup champions for the second time. Congratulations to the team, even if your tweets are offensive.
Finally, a little piece of Maple Leafs history for you, from the YMCA of Niagara
#FlashbackFriday: A little piece of #StCatharines YMCA history when the @MapleLeafs, under the direction of Conn Smythe, contacted the city of @St_Catharines requesting free access to the YMCA & @stcgcc during pre-season training. Note that breakfast was only 60¢! #Niagara pic.twitter.com/nB8tgYwPoM— YMCA of Niagara (@YMCANiagara) March 22, 2019
Enjoy your day everyone!