In part ten of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the importance of a good early start, and if the Leafs can avoid another disastrous start.
There really isn’t any other way to put it. Â No matter how you slice it, no matter how you try to spin it, or how you try to put a sugar coating on it, the cold hard fact still shines through.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were not a very good team last year.
Although their stats, and their general play, improved dramatically following the late January trades that saw them overturn nearly half their lineup, the fact remains that the 2009-2010 edition of the Maple Leafs fought inconsistency, as well as young inexperience that had them struggling most of the year.
But it could be argued that never were they worse, than in the first month of the season.
Line-up Note: Tim Brent has been recalled from the Marlies and will feature tonight. He has recorded 26 points in 35 games this season, third on the team among active Marlies. Caputi or Primeau will sit according to AM640′s Jonas Siegel.
The planets have aligned and the gods of hockey have shined their countenance upon the Leafs. Considering of course the various permutations that have to yet play out, it could still end up for nought at the close of play Sunday night. But after a favourable series of results, Toronto now has the chance to topple the Montreal Canadiens wavering playoff aspirations and boy do they owe the fans a blistering performance to give the Leafs faithful some tangible highlight from a season resplendent in lows.
The Toronto Maple Leafs play their second-last game of the season tonight versus the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7:00 pm et, TSN). The Rangers are fighting for their playoff lives, sitting 3 points back of the Bruins and 4 points back of the Flyers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. As for the Leafs, their hopes of moving out of the basement of the East are all but gone.
* aka “Operation: Basement Breakout”
With last night’s loss, the Maple Leafs were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for the 5th straight year. This was not really news – even the most optimistic of Leafs’ fans pretty much knew this to be the case since early into the New Year, if not sooner.
However, a more prevalent question regarding the season standings remains: is getting out of last place in the Eastern Conference still possible?
The Rangers are riding a 4 game win streak, the Leafs are not. The Rangers have a goal differential of +8 in their last 4 games, the Leafs have a goal differential of -6 in their last 3 games. The Rangers are 5th in the league on the PK (88%), while the Leafs are last (53.8%). The Rangers are 4th in the league for goals against per game (2.00). The Leafs are tied in last place with Florida at 4.25.
A quick look at the NHL standings reveals that with 11 games remaining, the Toronto Maple Leafs have not yet been mathematically eliminated from either the playoffs, or last place overall.
A numerical analysis reveals something even more interesting.Â Mathematically-speaking, the Maple Leafs are leading the race for the 6th overall pick in the draft.
It is a number that all Leafs fans hold in such high regard. Â It means so much to so many.
First of all, I know what youâ€™re thinking, and weâ€™re thinking it too; the â€œtorchâ€ for the upcoming Winter Games looks retarded. Anyways, it comes as no surprise as yet another team tries out their backup goaltender against the Leafs this season. Last year, by the end of January, the Leafs played 23 games against backup goaltenders in which they were 4-17-2. This year, same story, different team. Toskala looked to rebound back to his great 40 minutes in the Panthers game, but instead showed up as the guy who played the last 20 minutes and let in 3 goals in less than 10 minutes.
Hey folks, Alec’s traditionally done this in the past, but I’ll be taking over for this one as he’s been bogged down with work lately. With the way the Leafs have played over the past few years, we find ourselves looking forward to the future, hoping that there’s help on the horizon. Well let’s take a gander at what the Toronto Maple Leafs are cultivating down on the farm:
As they hit the road for a three-game away stretch, the Maple Leafs look to extend their three game winning streak but must start by conquering the impenetrable fortress known as the TD Banknorth Garden, home to the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins. The 21-5-4 Bruins boast an 11-1-1 home record and are currently riding an eleven game home winning streak during which they’ve outscored their opponents by a collective score of 53-22. The big, bad Bruins are back.