Next to zero chance the Leafs catch Arizona, Edmonton or Buffalo at this stage, but they fell back into fourth last with Carolina’s point against Columbus last night, which was conveniently 3-point game among the two teams closest to the Leafs in the standings.

Wednesday Links:

  • Anthony Petrielli: Leafs Notebook – March 10 (MLHS)
    Phaneuf is a lightning rod and that makes it tough to cut through the nonsense and see his real value. On a team like Detroit, they have a defense with Kronwall, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathon Ericsson, Kyle Quincey and now Marek Zidlicky (along with some decent young players); he would be going to go there and play a prime role on a perennial contender. To get some secondary pieces with zero futures would be an underwhelming return.
  • Jonas Siegel: Leafs finally tweak ‘stale’ top line (
    The break-up saw van Riemsdyk removed from the unit – paired with Peter Holland and Richard Panik instead – and replaced on the left side by Joffrey Lupul. The jolt seemed to work for van Riemsdyk, who scored for the first time in a five-on-five situation since Jan. 28 – a string of 18 games.
  • Kevin McGran: Morgan Rielly seeks silver linings with Maple Leafs (Toronto Star)
    He hints maybe he was too quiet as the team went off the rails. He was a young guy, after all, and playing limited minutes with limited success through last December and early January when things started to go downhill. He let the veterans in the room do the talking.
  • Charlotte’s Webster: Does Phil Kessel fade down the stretch? (Pension Plan Puppets)
    Based on the evidence shown here, there is no solid basis to the narrative that Kessel consistently underperforms (from an offensive perspective) in the later stages of the NHL season, relative to his ‘regular’ level of play. While his ICF/G was significantly lower in the last 40% of the games he played in both 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, that trend does not hold in the two most recent seasons I studied. Based on his point rate, we may even conclude the opposite, if anything. Kessel may not rise above and beyond his normal level of play as the season winds to an end, but it seems clear that from an offensive perspective, he doesn’t falter either.
  • Rob Longley: Fewer fans watching Maple Leafs on TV (Toronto Sun)
    The most recent debacle in a season full of them — a 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday — attracted an average audience of just 743,000 on CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada.
  • Lance Hornby: Maple Leafs defence prospects likely to stay with Marlies for playoff run (Toronto Sun)
    But the farmboys are in the thick of the American Hockey League playoff race and management is reluctant to start pulling them out for what looks like a dead-end assignment with the Leafs. Any kind of post-season exposure, even if they ultimately come up short in the race next month, is considered valuable. So expect defencemen such as Stu Percy, Viktor Loov and Andrew MacWilliam to stay put for now.
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