Leafs can impact New York teams
TORONTOWhen the NHL 48 game schedule began, most pundits felt safe picking the Stanley Cup finalist New Jersey Devils and the glossy New York Rangers to either make the playoffs or finish ahead of the Maple Leafs.
Jan. 19 now seems a million years ago, in an Eastern Conference race turned upside down a few times. Today, the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, who were 13th and 15th, respectively last April, are top five. And, for the Leafs, Saturday 2 1 triumph in New Jersey, coupled with a regulation home win Monday against the Rangers, would be near unscalable between those teams and the Leafs as the schedule dwindles.
There might even be a post season NHL first, with the Leafs in and all three New York teams out. But Toronto players are looking at the scoreboard first and the opposing crest second.
shortened season is always kind of goofy with a lot of predictions, defenceman John Michael Liles said Sunday. look at Montreal (worst to first in the Northeast) and where we were predicted to finish (anywhere below eighth by most). Predictions can be a bit of guesswork, but ultimately it about a team coming together, believing in what you doing and gelling.
not a focus as much on who you are playing. It almost like the whole season has been a playoff push and we coming to crunch time, now. We just want to make sure we continuing to play to our idenity, stay with what we preaching and that everyone buys in. Leafs draw the Rangers twice this week, with the return engagement Wednesday in Manhattan. Toronto lost the first meeting there 5 2 on Jan. 26, one of the rare times they have fallen below .500 this season. Marian Gaborik had the game winner for the Rangers that night, but he since been traded and there is a much different Broadway cast than the one projected to defend the Atlantic Division first seed.
can debate all they want about where teams are going to finish, but you don know until the games really start going, goalie James Reimer said. thought New York and New Jersey would be better seeds than they are right now, but that just the way the season goes. Things happen.
go into these games with a chance to get a little separation in the standings. That would be big for us, but we know (the Rangers) want to improve with all the people on their tails. game remains for Toronto against both the Devils and New York Islanders, as the Leafs count down their final 10 games. With too many moving targets to calculate a magic number for Toronto first playoff appearance since 2004, the Leafs can basically shoot for a rough combination of nine points to reach the 55 plateau, which most consider a safe haven.
## ## But coach Randy Carlyle is not likely to accept the Leafs crossing the wire in cruise mode.
you are trying to position yourself as best you can, said Liles, who knew exactly that his 36th and most recent playoff game came almost three years ago in Colorado. not just thinking: we in a playoff position, we fine and it okay to be sixth, or seventh You trying to get up to those top three spots. won catch Montreal for the division lead, unless Boston and Ottawa decide to go away before the Leafs meet the Habs for the final game on April 27. But there is plenty of keep them busy in the meantime.
want to be chasing teams, getting that home ice advantage, Reimer said. nice to be in a playoff spot right now, but if you let your foot off the gas pedal, that can change pretty quickly, We have to play with confidence and desparation, even if we in fifth or sixth, because that what other teams are doing.