Leafs win just one game, but it’s enough to stoke Torontonians’ post-season desires

Leafs win just one game, but it’s enough to stoke Torontonians’ post-season desires

Leafs win shootout against Panthers last night (Image: SportsNet)

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ narrow 4-3 shootout victory over the Florida Panthers has the sports media thinking the impossible once again: are the boys in blue putting together a late (and unlikely) playoff push? It’s another case of one win sparking hope of post-season play in a season that has been rife with false starts. The Leafs, of course, aren’t going to make a run at playoff glory. But you can’t blame players, fans and the media alike for turning a single victory into a small beacon of hope in this otherwise dreary and snow-stormy hockey landscape at this point in the season. Really, what else is there to do?

The win moved Toronto to within five points of the 11th-place Panthers in the Eastern Conference standings, and 12 points out of the final playoff spot, currently held by the Atlanta Thrashers. The squad has 45 points after 50 games, on pace to match the same 74-point total last season that left them out of the post-season. That means the Leafs will have to put together one heck of a winning streak if they want to make a legitimate run. Technically, they’ve still got a shot and nothing is impossible in sport—but this probably is.

According to the Globe’s James Mirtle, the Leafs need to go somewhere in the neighborhood of 22-9-1 through the final 32 games to hit the 90-point mark, which would likely give them a decent shot at cracking the top eight. The Sun also summed it up in typically scientific fashion: “they are going to have to win as many [games] as humanly possible to have any shot at making the playoffs.”

But how many games is it possible for a team to win whose longest winning streak this season is four games? The range of human possibility just got a lot smaller.

• Leafs squeak by Panthers [Globe and Mail]
Leafs pull it together for shootout win over Panthers [Toronto Star]
• Leafs hang on for shootout win [Toronto Sun]