Maple Leafs clinch a playoff spot for 8th consecutive season

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
2 months ago
The Leafs might have had the night off but they still managed to pick up that coveted little x next to their name on the standings.
Unfortunately the t-shirts haven’t been printed yet, so it’s not as official as the Canucks want it, but it’s definitely that step below t-shirt official.
The Leafs clinch comes courtesy of the Flyers, Capitals, and Red Wings all losing on Friday night. And while the Lightning also clinched and are pushing Toronto hard for the 3rd spot in the Atlantic, the Leafs can now breathe a little easier for the final seven games of the season. The Leafs have 2 points and one game at hand over the Lightning.
The path out of the season isn’t too difficult for the Leafs, the Saturday night game against Montreal is the start of five consecutive games against teams presently sitting on the outside of the playoffs. They’ll face the Penguins and the Red Wings that are amongst the teams struggling to step up to grab the final wild card spot and have a couple of games against the Devils who would desperately like to show signs of life for next season before wrapping up with a road trip against the Panthers and Lightning which may end up having ramifications on who faces who in the first round.
This is the first time in a long time the Leafs first round opponent and place in the standings wasn’t known by the All-Star game so the uncertainty will keep things interesting.
Leafs results against potential first round opponents:
Boston Bruins4020220.257151.753.75
Carolina Hurricanes3020110.1677102.333.33
Florida Panthers3210040.6679832.67
New York Rangers3210040.66713114.333.67
Whether the Leafs win or lose their playoff fates could go any which way so the Leafs might as well try to win and end the season in the best possible way. The Leafs also now have the option to consider resting some players or reducing some icetime.
The Leafs making it eight seasons of playoffs in a row and not showing anytime of missing the playoffs anytime soon is a nice change from the rough eight years that preceded them. And after a long wait to see how much things have changed since the last appearance, the Leafs are two weeks away from the opportunity to make their case that things have changed for the better.

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