Not too long ago, the Leafs were sitting pretty comfortably in sixth and all looked pretty much ideal as far as the playoff picture was concerned. It hasn’t turned out so simple, of course. Washington has caught fire in the Southeast while Ottawa has fallen off with several consecutive losses. Now the Leafs are in 5th place, well back of 4th but increasingly clear of 6th (up by 4 points, even on games with the Sens).
As of now, this gives the Leafs the dreaded matchup with Boston. Personally, I’d love to see how the Leafs handle the challenge given anything past “making the playoffs” is a bonus for me this season, and the loss of Patrice Bergeron puts a pretty big chink in the Bruin armour. Knowing how this fan base is wont to react, however, it would be a disaster scenario if Kessel were to get shut down throughout the series by Chara and a Bruin team featuring Seguin, Rask and Hamilton were to run over the Leafs. That’s just about the worst way to put a damper on a really positive season (to deal with “Kessel doesn’t show up in the playoffs” talk all summer). Maybe I’m being too guarded.
The good news is that, with a Habs’ loss last night, the door is open for Boston to take the Northeast Division lead and put the Leafs and Habs in the same playoff bracket with nine games to go. I’ve liked how we’ve matched up with the Habs for the most part, the first Leafs-Habs series since 1978 is positively alluring, and somehow it’s gotten to the point where, at least personally, losing to the Habs is less annoying than losing to the Bruins. Could be just me, that might be taboo to some.
It’s going to be interesting, but all this aside it’s always nice to be talking about playoff matchup scenarios rather than draft pick positioning or an outside shot at a playoff berth (or the previously perennial process of weighing the two against one another).
Here’s the up to date Eastern Conference Playoff Picture:
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