Currently in 10th place, (37-32-10, 32 ROW), There are two playoff spots the Leafs can grab. Here’s how they can do it:
7th place: Buffalo Sabres – 90 pts (40-29-10, 35 ROW)
ROW is wins in either regulation or OT. It’s the new first tiebreaker. To catch the Sabres the Leafs need to beat Washington, New Jersey and Montreal before the shootout and the Sabres need to lose their remaining three games in regulation. One missed point by the Leafs or one gained point by Buffalo and it’s over.
If the Leafs win out without the shootout they’ll have 90 points and 35ROW. That would take us to the second tie breaker: points earned in head to head games. The Leafs are 3-2-1 against Buffalo this season, good for 7pts. Buffalo is 3-3-0 vs. Toronto for only 6pts.
Buffalo’s schedule is: Tampa, Philly and @ Columbus. Tampa and Philly haven’t done us many favors so far and Columbus are pretty terrible.
8th place: New York Rangers – 89 pts (42-32-5, 33 ROW)
The Leafs will, at a minimum, need 5 points in their next 3 games to catch the Rangers. That means they could lose in OT or a SO once as long as they win their other two games in regulation, assuming the Rangers don’t earn another point. If the Rangers earn a single point the Leafs will need to win three games (two in regulation). The Rangers hold the second tiebreaker of head to head points so the Leafs would need to end up with 34 ROW and 89 or 90 points.
The Rangers’ schedule is: Boston, Atlanta and New Jersey. Boston can beat the Rangers (but lost 1-0 on their last trip to MSG), the Devils always play their rivals hard and Atlanta is the mystery box.
9th place: Carolina Hurricanes – 87 pts (38-30-11, 33 ROW)
Carolina plays Detroit, @Atlanta and Tampa and the Leafs will need to pass them this week to. Though not as dire as Buffalo or the Rangers the Leafs are three points back of the Hurricanes with three to play. The Leafs will at a minimum need: 3 points and two regulation wins (so four points) to pass Carolina, assuming they lose out. The Leafs and Carolina each went 2-2-0 against each other and the final tiebreaker is goal differential. The Leafs sit at -27 and the Hurricanes at -20. If the Leafs could improve their goal differential by +21 in three games we won’t care about ROW against Carolina. If Carolina gets four points in their next three games the Leafs can not pass them.
Essentially with three games remaning a single point by Buffalo eliminates the Leafs from 7th place. Two points by the Rangers eliminates the Leafs from the playoffs. The Leafs play Washington, @ New Jersey and Montreal. The hardest game for the Leafs is obviously the Capitals who are still jockeying with Philly for 1st in the East. The good news there might be that if the Leafs are completely outclassed on Wednesday night there’s not much reason to go to the playoffs save for drafting later.
It’s unlikely Toronto’s going to the playoffs, their strong play started way too late to balance out their poor play, but the fact that we’re writing articles about what needs to happen this week means we’ve come a long way from giving away the 2nd overall pick last year.