One month ago (Feb 24/08), this is the entry which was written in this
cyber space, concerning the plight of the once hapless Toronto Maple Leafs …
… and, today, this is what the playoff standings look like in the NHL’s Eastern Conference:
7 Philadelphia 86 Pts, 6 Games Remaining
8 Boston 84 Pts, 7 Games Remaining
9 Washington 82 Pts, 6 Games Remaining
10 Buffalo 81 Pts, 7 Games Remaining
11 Florida 81 Pts, 6 Games Remaining
12 Toronto 80 Pts, 6 Games Remaining
with the Leafs 4 points away from claiming the 8th and final playoff position.
Looking ahead to the remainder of this week’s schedule, it is not entirely inconceivable that Toronto could find themselves sitting alone in the 8th position, with 86 Pts, should they be able to string together 3 consecutive W’s (v Bos, @ BOS, v Mon).
Scheduled Games (this week):
Tue Mar 25 – TOR v Bos, BUF v Ott, NYR v Phi, TBL v Flo
Thu Mar 27 – BOS v Tor, OTT v Buf, TBL v Was, FLO v Atl
Fri Mar 28 – NJD v Phi, BUF v Mon
Sat Mar 29 – BOS v Ott, TOR v Mon, NYI v Phi, FLO v Was
Sun Mar 30 – BUF v Bos
More importantly … is the ‘new feeling’ which has now grabbed hold of the team …
Surging Leafs come alive (Mar 25/08)
It all just feels different, as though it’s a new season, as though the cloud that relentlessly followed ex-GM John Ferguson was never there …
Sundin to miss key Bruins game (Mar 25/08)
Resilient Leafs ‘staying in the fight’, Maurice says (Mar 25/08)
A bear of a week lies ahead for Leafs (Mar 24/08)
Stajan ready to be next Leafs captain (Mar 24/08)
and breathed new life into the formerly dormant franchise.
Q1. What have the key elements involved with the Maple Leafs’ resurgence?
A1. (Paul) Maurice points to two factors.
(I) The emergence of Toskala as the undisputed No. 1 goalie … has allowed the team to stay in more games.
“It’s a lot easier getting out of bed with a sense of possibility instead of dreading what could happen.”
(II) … the refusal by five Leaf players to waive no-trade clauses, while seen very negatively outside the Leaf dressing room, was ingested differently inside the room.
“That was an important moment … Staying (in Toronto) wasn’t, in my opinion, taking the easy way out for those players.”
As was said a month ago, prior to the Trade Deadline, there are 5 current members of the Maple Leafs who absolutely needed to be kept together to form the Core Group of this team building toward the future … i.e. Mats Sundin (Captain), Matt Stajan (future captain), Alex Steen, Carlo Colaiacovo & Tomas Kaberle.
Once this happened … in the face of such adversity … the Maple Leafs ‘Core Covenant’ was formed … and,
miraculously predictably, this team turned the corner.
Peerless Forecast: The Toronto Maple Leafs are about to make this year’s NHL Playoffs.