Apparently, the Toronto Maple Leafs have returned to the playoff race. According to the Globe and Mail, the squad is “back on track,” and the Star’s Leafs Fan blog tells us the club’s “playoff chances refuse to die.” We, on the other hand, think it’s the talk about the Leafs unlikely post-season bid that refuses to die. Sure, Toronto came away with an important two points with last night’s 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, pulling them within four points of eighth-place Buffalo Sabres and within two points of ninth-place Carolina. But the problem isn’t that the Leafs aren’t doing their part. It’s that time is running out.
The Leafs only have 11 games remaining in the regular season and, realistically, they probably need to win nine of those if they’re even going to have a shot at supplanting Buffalo for the final post-season berth in the Eastern Conference. The team plays a string of strong opponents down the stretch, and the Sabres also have a game in hand. Four points is only two wins away—but that means Toronto has to do a near impossible amount of winning while both Buffalo and Carolina do their fair share of losing. Perhaps it’s time to move on?
In the spirit of moving on, rookie goaltender James Reimer ended up getting the start between the pipes last night and returned to his previously stellar form. Optimus Reim may have been tired, but he didn’t show it. The goaltender carried the Leafs to victory, making 36 saves and silencing the speculation that his previous play was an exception, not the norm.
Dion Phaneuf also pocketed a pair of power-play goals, proving, once again, that for the Leafs to win, their best players need to be, well, their best players.
• Leafs back on track in playoff race [Globe and Mail] • Phaneuf scores twice to lift Leafs to 3-1 win over Hurricanes [Toronto Star]
• Game 71: When the Leafs refuse to get into the coffin [Toronto Star]
• Reimer, Phaneuf save the day for Leafs [National Post] • Captain, Reimer lifts Leafs past Canes [Toronto Sun]