Winning two games in two weeks against the Philadelphia Flyers was a lofty expectation for the Leafs. So Toronto will swallow the 3-2 loss to the Flyers tonight.
But the Leafs are running out of lives. Fast.
Toronto sits 10th in the East with 68 points in 68 games. Carolina is in 9th with 72 points and the Rangers are in 8th with 74 points. Buffalo sits in 7th with 74 points as well but they have played only 67 games compared to NYR’s 69.
Cue Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres – the first of 2 remaining meetings the Leafs have against their divisional rivals. If the Leafs lose, it’s over.
The Leafs’ emergence as a legitimate threat for the 8th Seed in the Eastern Conference has taken attention away from an area of great struggle.
Tomas Kaberle’s exit has created a huge void on the man advantage for Toronto. The Leafs have attempted to fill the void with Tim Brent because of his experience on the Powerplay with the Marlies. Ron Wilson has used Brett Lebda’s sudden resurgence on the unit as well. And Dion Phaneuf has played the best hockey of his Maple Leaf career since Kaberle’s exit.
But the Leafs do not have anyone that can run the Powerplay as well as Number 15.
The Bandwagon is filling up in Toronto. Doubters and skeptics alike are uniting with each passing game.
Mind you, there are still non-beLeafers clinging to the cynical expectation of this team’s downfall.
This bandwagon, though, is gaining momentum despite being empty for extended periods of time this season. There is not a Leaf fan on the planet that has not jumped off more than once.
You can thank James Reimer for that.
Tomas Kaberle is gone.
And while much of Leaf Nation has celebrated his exit – an exit that deserved more gratitude from the City of Toronto – the elite blueliner was the only piece the Maple Leafs had that could potentially land a top line center in a trade.
Enter Joe Colborne.
Though the 1st and Conditional 2nd the Leafs acquired in the trade with the Boston Bruins are significant pieces as well, the assessment of their value is subject to what Brian Burke decides to do with them.
Colborne on the other hand, is a distinguishable asset.