Without sounding too grim regarding the Leafs playoff outlook, it’s basically undeniable that the club has reached the coin-flip territory that many of us predicted before the season began. Most believed the team would float around as a fringe playoff club and finish somewhere in the 7-11 range.
When the team kicked off things by banking points and climbing to the top of the league, we knew it wasn’t sustainable, but were obviously glad to see things go right before we knew they’d go wrong (somewhat). It isn’t exactly a death sentence, but the club has slipped to where they should be: clinging to a playoff spot.
Now that some shaky goaltending and a hilarious penalty kill have created a one-two punch on the Leafs, they’ve slipped to 7th in the Eastern conference and are looking at being overtaken any day now. Will they? Who knows. Will it matter? Not really. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played, and you may as well get used to chewing your fingernails while checking the standings daily from here on in. We saw a tight race in both conferences last season, we’ll see the same this time around.
Luckily, for us, the Leafs are in the thick of things from the get-go here and aren’t climbing from 8 or 10 points back to try and scrape together a late season push. The team should stay within that 7-11 group for the remainder of the season, and which side of the dotted line they land on is ultimately a coin-flip in my mind.
I really can’t predict whether the Leafs make the playoffs or not, and neither can you. Despite the fact that the club isÂ boasting a 40 point total right now, they’re only three points ahead of the Sabres who sit in 11th, with an equal amount of games played (36).
Basically all we can do is hold on for the ride going into the new year and see how things shake out. The Leafs are no lock to make the postseason this year, but they’re no basement club either. They’re right where they deserve to be.
On to the links
Leafs getting offence from defence (The Star)
Ron Wilson’s usage of Bozak and Grabovski (Cam Charron at The Leafs Nation)
Phaneuf will be fighting a difficult captain’s legacy down the road (Michael at VLM)
Wilson’s extension all about timing (Toronto Sports Media)
Ten most shocking moments of 2011 (Puck Daddy)
Leafs-Hurricanes game preview (CBSSports)
Eric Staal and the Leafs – wishful thinking (TMLs Hockey Blog)