February certainly wasn’t friendly to the Toronto Maple Leafs after a series of bad games and setbacks have now placed their playoff aspirations in jeopardy. With the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders making their push up the standings, these teams have tightened an already tight playoff race around the Maple Leafs.
However the Maple Leafs can turn things around quickly, the next 10 games will go a long way to determining if the Maple Leafs are in or out of the playoffs. Never in the Maple Leafs recent history have 10 games meant so much to the organization. If the Maple Leafs can take 14-18 points from the next 10 games, this would go a long way to improve their chances in punching their ticket into the playoffs. Anything less would possibly see them drop out of the playoff race completely.
The next 10 games see the Maple Leafs play against the Red Wings tonight, then Flyers, Hurricanes, Panthers, Lightning, Hawks, Bruins, Blue Jackets, Devils and Sabres. The Maple Leafs hold their destiny in their hands. If they can beat the Red Wings, Flyers, Hurricanes, Panthers, Lightning, Bruins and Devil that will get them the 14 points I suspect they will need to gain if they want to remain in the playoff picture. The crucial of those games are the ones against the Flyers, Panthers, Lightning, and finally the Bruins.
Taking two points in regulation time is so very important as these teams are currently gaining ground or are currently above the Maple Leafs in points. Boston for example is 4 points up on the Maple Leafs, however they have played two more games than the Maple Leafs. If the Maple Leafs can win the two games they have in hand on the Bruins, then continue to find success against the Bruins they could make a 6 point swing which would see the Maple Leafs up by two points on the Bruins for either the 3rd spot in their division or for the possible final wild card spot.
That is why taking advantage of this easier group of 10 games is so important, they would go a long way in placing the cherry on top of what has been by all preseason predictions a success. The immediate impact on the rookies, who will be one year hardened by making a claim for a playoff spot and overcoming a tough playoff race so early in their careers will carry into next season and beyond.
So buckle your seat belts Leafs Nation, things are about to pick up and pick up quickly! Let’s get our Maple Leafs gear on, and let’s give them one big push! As the city commences to get hockey fever again after so many years of disorganization, futility and disappointment.