Noon Mashup: Crucial Month Ahead

Noon Mashup: Crucial Month Ahead

Photo: Chris Young/The Canadian Press

The month of February will be crucial in the Maple Leafs‘ quest to solidify their first playoff berth since the lockout.  Although the race won’t necessarily be decided this month, it will certainly go a long way in putting the Leafs in a prime position to compete for the Stanley Cup come April.   The team has definitely been playing better hockey (the last ten minutes of Monday’s debacle versus Pittsburgh notwithstanding), picking up points in five of their last six games.

Here is a look at the Eastern Conference standings as of February 2nd, 2012:

Team PTS GP
NY Rangers* 69 49
Boston* 66 48
Florida* 57 49
Philadelphia 64 49
Pittsburgh 62 51
Ottawa 60 53
Toronto 58 51
New Jersey 57 49
Washington 56 50
Winnipeg 52 51

*denotes division leader, bold is currently in a playoff spot

The Toronto Maple Leafs under Ron Wilson have an impressive 92-63-24 record after February 1st since the NHL lockout and are hopeful to continue that trend this season.  I thought I would take a look at how the rest of February shakes up in terms of strength/type of schedule for four teams vital to the playoff race.

Let’s look at games remaining, home games, how many game are against a team .500 or better and how many back-to-back situations they face in February:

Team Games @ Home vs .500+ Back-To-Back
7. Leafs 12 6 8 2
8. Devils 13 6 10 3
9. Florida 13 7 8 3
10 Winnipeg 14 8 9 2

*all numbers as of February 2/2012

Nothing will come easy for the Maple Leafs this month (or ever it seems) and their schedule for February, 2012 will be a challenge.  Both Florida (3-3-4) and Winnipeg (3-6-1) have slightly easier schedules but neither team has played superb hockey over their past ten games. This needs to be a month where the Leafs push the gas pedal and give themselves some much needed separation and breathing room.

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LEAFS LINKS:

Brian Burke was on the George Notgonnaspellhislastnameout Show last night.
A must watch.

Grabovski’s Agent is in town
Quotes from Gary Greenstin, Grabo’s agent, and Brian Burke suggest Grabovski isn’t going anywhere. Grabo loves Toronto like he loves pineapple. Doesn’t sound like Burke is afraid to pass the deadline without Grabovski signed, either.

Alyonka Larionov’s feature with Joffrey Lupul
Get to know the man they call Loops.

Ray Ferraro apologizes for saying Phaneuf yells like a girl.
If I questioned Phaneuf’s masculinity and found out it got out, I’d apologize too.

Please stop the Nazem Kadri yo yo
Michael Langlois doesn’t like the way Kadri’s been handled.

In the Pipeline – February 1st
The Leafs Nation updates the progress of the Leafs’ CHL prospects.

Iso Report: Luke Schenn
Derek Harmsworth does an in depth, period-by-period study of Luke Schenn’s individual performance last night.

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