If the Maple Leafs make the playoffs, they’ll also make history
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ improbable post-season push is not only an unlikely bid to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004, but also a chance for the club to break the long-standing record for the biggest single season comeback in NHL history. The New York Islanders set the mark nearly two decades ago, overcoming a 12-point deficit in the standings to qualify for the playoffs.
Like the Leafs today, they turned their season around in January, barely squeezing into post-season play with a momentous drive down the stretch. But though the opportunity to charge into both a first-round playoff series and the NHL record books provides the Leafs with another level of inspiration, it also illustrates just how difficult the task that lies ahead actually is.
The Islanders’ record has been untouchable since the new playoff format was introduced that same year, because, well, it’s really, really hard to make up ground in today’s game. New York recouped 12 points with their inspired run, and Toronto would have to make up two more points than that if it wants a shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup this spring. Considering the amount of aspiring Cinderellas that never found their princes in the intervening years—including the 2006–7 Maple Leafs, who climbed back from a nine-point deficit only to fall one short of post-season glory—the odds for this year’s club are darn near impossible. History, in other words, simply is not on their side.