Getting Out of Bottom Five = New Playoffs

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    Setting up a goal for the Leafs in lieu of a playoff spot, making up seven points to get out of the NHL basement is a good start .. but just how difficult will it be?

    Let’s find out together.

    Some housekeeping items for the end of the week here, ahead of the big game tonight with two teams showing off their shiny new additions.

    After some scheduling and project oriented obligations, Fab and I are going to put Stick Work on hiatus for the time being.

    My obligations with McKeen’s Hockey will keep me fairly busy over the next few weeks, and the work required to put a show together wouldn’t be timely. We still could do some recording, but there wouldn’t be any regularity. We’ll revisit the show at a later date.

    Having said that, there is one tradition that I will continue over a blog, every Friday.

    I’d like to keep the Torontosaurus Rex alive and do a blog every Monday for the rest of the season, highlighting an outstanding Leaf over the past week.

    I don’t like to use straight points when making these decisions, and sometimes going off the board to chose someone aside from the usual suspects gives credit to the worker bees.

    Like today ..

    If I had to choose the Torontosaurus Rex for the past week, it would hands down be general manager, Brian Burke.

    Not only for making a great set of acquisitions for the Maple Leafs, but for also giving the NHL something to talk about until the next blockbuster blew Ilya Kovalchuk into New Jersey.

    Playoffs? Uh-uh .. Getting Out of Lottery Spot are new Playoffs:

    The post season is nothing more than a pipe dream in Toronto, so where is the focus the rest of the way? For most, the perfect scenario is to get the hell out of the lottery pick spot, so that Boston doesn’t end up with a top-five pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

    A worthy goal; it will be just as difficult to cover the ground to get out of the bottom five.

    Entering Friday’s game against Ilya Kovalchuk and the NJ Devils, the revamped Maple Leafs are seven points behind the pack of clubs sitting outside the bottom five.

    Seven points separation. Sounds like a small enough amount, but in reality, it’s pretty difficult to overcome with a couple dozen games.

    To put into perspective the Senators, were 13 points behind the Sabres at the start of their 11-game win streak. After all those wins, they still trail Buffalo, by one point.

    Ottawa was 22-21-4 (48 pts) when the streak started. Buffalo had a record of 28-11-5 (61 pts) as they started a massive seven-game road swing.

    The Sabres had just come off a six game win streak with a shootout loss to Colorado, but had gained points in 10 of 11 games (7-1-3).

    Since the Sens win streak began, Buffalo amassed a record of 4-5-0-2 totaling nine points.

    Ottawa had 10 regulation wins, and only one needing extra time. This is as important as winning overall. Regulation wins are key down this stretch.

    The Sens gained ground without give up any to their opponents, an accomplishment in today’s NHL. Finishing off an opponent in 60 minutes is a deep bonus, especially with jostling for position or a playoff spot on the line. Or, in this case, to get out of from the bottom.

    Teams right above Toronto are slumping enough to make that race somewhat tighter. Both NY teams are 3-7-0 in their last 10. Atlanta (4-4-2) (now, sans Kovalchuk) and Columbus (5-5-0) (now, sans Hitchcock) are riding .500 while the Bruins implode with a 1-6-3 run.

    A playoff spot is a write-off for Toronto while they attempt to make up seven points rise from lottery pick, which in the end may not be enough, in this points system. If the gap between the Senators and Sabres required an 11 game streak to close, what will it take to chase seven points in 25 games?

    By: Gus Katsaros

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