When Babcock joined the Maple Leafs organization he promised one thing, pain. He noted how there would be pain and we would have to accept it. The pain was felt last year but this year something is happening. The Leafs currently sit in prime position to make the playoffs and only added to their chances with the acquisition of Brian Boyle. This is where things get a bit uncomfortable for Leafs fans. They were promised pain and one year doesn’t seem like that would be it. It feels almost greedy to think so, that’s why whenever asked ‘are the Leafs making the playoffs.’ Fans are incredibly apprehensive, well most fans. The reason for the apprehension is we’ve been in this situation before and just missed out. So there’s that but there’s also the Leafs schedule. The Leafs of the last 21 games the Leafs have only 9 are against teams in a playoff spot. Now there are several on the outskirts, the LA Kings, Florida Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers to name a few. Although the Cali swing is usually a brutal affair, the games seem winnable with the biggest task being the Sharks who they lost to tonight. Unfortunately the other two games are a back to back which haven’t be then the Leafs strong suit.
The Leafs have faired almost identical numbers home and away (Home: 15–10–5; Away: 13–11–7) which is good because the last 20 are split nearly 50/50 home and away (10/10 respectively).
February was supposed to be hellish month and it wasn’t pretty but it also wasn’t as bad as it could be. The Leafs flat out lost 5 games. Every other game this month they have managed to get at least a point. That’s not something to be ignored. The Leafs had won 5 games and lost 4 games in OT or SOT. If there’s one thing the Leafs are doing is they are making sure to at least walk away with a point but from another angle it’s easy to see how they are also throwing away a point. These points add up and if there’s one way to feel pain, it’s through a lesson like ‘don’t let points slip through your fingers.’ Just today, a crucial point was up for grab and with 1:32 on the clock, they let it slip.
The real scary part is the last two games of the season. The Leafs face Pittsburgh and Columbus on a back to back to end the season. It’s hard to ignore how daunting a task that will be and will further highlight the importance for the Leafs to lock up a position before making that weekend a do or die.
For the next 3-4 weeks Leaf fans are going to be on the edge of their seat, every game will be scrutinized and the thought that keeps playing back is Babcock saying there will be pain. If the Leafs can make the playoffs, could that mean the pain is over, or are we being set up for one incredible sting?