The Toronto Maple Leafs could have beaten the St. Louis Blue last night – they simply had to put forth the same effort seen during the third period throughout the entire game.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things turned out and now the Leafs find themselves tied in a deadly foursome for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re joined by Columbus, Detroit and Washington. From this pack, only one team will survive to make the playoffs.
Columbus and Detroit currently hold the edge, having played the fewest games (72 each). On the other hand, the Leafs have the longest odds, having played the most games (74). Washington, for its part, has played 73 games, but it’s arguably the hottest team among the four of them at the moment.
Toronto will get a chance to cut into Detroit’s lead on Saturday when the Red Wings visit the Air Canada Centre.
In yesterday’s outcome, the Leafs got some good news: Jonathan Bernier returned to net and looked good despite taking the loss. He stopped 41 of 44 shots and Toronto will need him at his best if they hope to make a strong finish.
They next play on Friday, visiting the Flyers in Philadelphia. Surprisingly, Toronto is positioned to sweep the season series after winning the first two games by a combined score of 7-4 (one of the wins came in overtime).
Detroit visits Toronto the following night. Here the Red Wings hold the lead in the season series (2-1) and the best the Leafs can hope to accomplish is a tie. The good news? Every game in this series has been decided by one goal and Detroit is missing several key players right now while the Leafs finally have their full lineup in play.
It’ll be an interesting and important weekend for the Leafs. They cannot continue to rely on the mistakes of other teams – they need to start forging their own destiny – and there’s no better place to start than by beating Detroit at home.
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