Through the miracle of poor scheduling the Leafs don’t play on Saturday night, and the NHL has left its largest fanbase lost and searching for ways to kill time until Toronto plays again on Tuesday night.
One strategy for following the Leafs, but not watching them (which seems preferable at the moment) is to see what becomes of the Florida Panthers playoff changes.
At the moment, MoneyPuck.com is giving them a 23.7% chance of making the playoffs, but only a 18% chance of getting the 3rd place spot in the Atlantic division. I want to say that I like those odds for the Leafs, but after going winless in California and picking up only 3 goals over 3 games, we can’t ignore that the Leafs might need to rely on Florida’s self destruction rather than the Leafs winning their way out of the season. The Panthers have a regulation wins lead over the Leafs on the season, so they will only need to match the 5 point deficit the are in against the Leafs, rather than pick up six points to fully pass them in the standings to earn the final playoff spot. Florida only having 3 wins in their last 12 games and being on a four game losing streak bodes well for Toronto, but never count out Toronto’s ability to spectacularly lose, and how much the hockey gods hate the Leafs.
While he hasn’t been great it’s hard to imagine that the injury to Sergei Bobrovsky is something the Panthers are happy with and that could benefit the Leafs as well.
Tonight the Panthers are facing off against the Habs, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find this game on television, although it might be hard to choke down cheering for Montreal. Monday night, Florida plays St. Louis, which should be another tough matchup, as well.
Ideally the Leafs will get some help in the coming days, and we can go back to feeling confident about the Leafs at least qualifying for the playoffs, even if we have our fears about what the Lightning will do to them.