The Ottawa Senators help the Leafs clinch their playoff spot
Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
By Jon Steitzer1 month ago
With the Senators’ 5-2 win tonight over the Florida Panthers, the Leafs now how their glorious little “x” next to their name on the standings sheet.
The Florida Panthers can now only reach the 95 point mark and with the Leafs sitting at 97 points, they are home free and guaranteed at least third in the Atlantic Division, as even if the Penguins and Islanders both pass them points wise, they are obviously not Atlantic Division teams and would be limited to a wild card spot.
This of course hasn’t eliminated the Panthers from the playoff picture. They can still catch the Islanders and Penguins for the wild card spots, but their chances are slimmer each day and their next opponent is, you guessed it, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It will be interesting to see how a desperate for the playoffs team does against one that just clinched.
The Leafs playoff situation still requires some work. Toronto has a seven point lead over the Lightning in the standings with a game at hand, but home ice advantage hasn’t officially been locked in yet. A combination of 5 Leafs wins and Lightning losses gets them the rest of the way there. Toronto also has a game at hand and the Lightning are on a four game losing streak.
The clinch is a nice little milestone on the way to the playoffs, but it is also when everyone starts embracing lineup card regulars getting a bit more rest. We’ll see how the Leafs utilize this down the stretch, especially with Ryan O’Reilly also coming back into the mix in the coming games.
For now, a rare thank you to the Ottawa Senators, the takers of Dion Phaneuf and Nikita Zaitsev, and the givers of the little x.
This is the seventh straight year the Leafs have qualified for the postseason. I’m sure they all went great.
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