Back-to-back losses deliver devastating blow to Leafs’ playoff hopes
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ rotten week just keeps getting worse. Hot on the heels of a 10-4-5 tear since the start of February that’s led to an upstart bid for the post-season, the boys in blue and white have simply fallen apart. On Tuesday night, the club suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime setback against the New York Islanders, claiming only a single point when they desperately needed two. Then, last night against the Philadelphia Flyers, they dropped another one-goal affair, this time going down 3-2 in a game that was well within their grasp. To make matters worse, the Buffalo Sabres downed the superior Boston Bruins on the same night, creating a four-point swing in the standings and pushing the Leafs six points off the pace for the eighth post-season berth in the Eastern Conference standings.
The 10th-place Leafs are chasing those same Sabres, who are tied with the New York Rangers for the coveted last playoff spot. But now they only have 14 games left to make up six points, a gap that could have—and probably should have—been smaller heading into a pivotal home contest against Buffalo coming up on Saturday night. Had the Leafs picked up more than a solitary point this week, tomorrow’s tilt might have meant something else entirely.
Now, the Leafs can’t afford to make any mistakes, nor can they leave a single point on the table. They’ll likely need to win 10 or 11 of their remaining games to hit the 90-point threshold, the consensus magic number for post-season qualification this year. That’ll be no easy task, given that the Leafs have lost more games than they’ve won and that they have to play Detroit, Washington and Boston (twice) down the home stretch.
The Leafs aren’t in mission impossible territory yet, but this week has them treading dangerously close to what we worried about all along: another inspired but ultimately futile post-season dash that leaves the club with its resources spent and little to show for it.
• Leafs suffer setback in 3-2 loss to Flyers [Toronto Star]
• Timing running out on Leafs after loss to Flyers [Toronto Sun]
• Leafs squeezed out at home [Globe and Mail]
• Soft goal costly to Leafs’ playoff hopes [National Post]