Considering the magnified scope that naturally comes with playing in Toronto, it’s easy to roll your eyes at the latest bit of hysteria from Maple Leafs fans.
You’d have to be a sadist not to feel for them a bit at this point, though.
It appeared that the 2011-12 season would break Toronto’s post-lockout playoff drought for quite some time, but it’s looking more and more like the flawed but (formerly?) fun team will fall short again. Worse yet, they’re falling apart in about as ugly a fashion as one can imagine.
Blowing the lead
A night after inspiring the latest round of “Fire Wilson” chants, it seemed like Toronto was primed to do something fairly impressive: bouncing right back a day later to beat the Chicago Blackhawks. The Buds latched onto an early lead and built it up to 3-1, but of course it couldn’t be that easy.
Chicago stormed back to score the next four goals before Mike Brown scored a garbage goal with four seconds left to make it 5-4.
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The Maple Leafs are now 1-9-1 in a harrowing 11-game span, placing them in the thick of the East’s outside-the-playoff mud:
8. Washington: 69 points (19 games remaining)
9. Winnipeg 68 points (17 GR)
10. Toronto: 65 points (18 GR)
11. Tampa Bay: 64 points (19 GR)
12. Buffalo: 62 points (20 GR)
13. Carolina: 61 points (19 GR)
14. Islanders: 61 points (19 GR)
15. Montreal: 58 points (18 GR)
Toronto also faces eight of its next 11 games on the road, so life could get that much more miserable for the mopey Maple Leafs.
The Blackhawks aren’t out of the woods in the West, but with 75 points in 65 games played, they’re comfortably in the playoffs – even if remaining at sixth place is far from guaranteed.
I don’t think it’s a leap to say that Toronto fans would gladly accept dealing with such a “predicament.”
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:
1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.
“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”
Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.
The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.
Like Frank Corrado (see here), Tomas Jurco (see here), Stanislav Galiev (see here), and Patrik Nemeth (see here) before him, Canadiens defenseman Jarred Tinordi is off to the AHL for a conditioning stint.
Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season; however, because he’s no longer exempt from waivers, the former first-round pick has remained on Montreal’s roster.
It’s an issue that’s received a good deal of attention lately. Some believe the league should do something about it, lest more young players get “stuck” in the NHL.
Tinordi will only be allowed to spend two weeks in St. John’s, as per the rules of his conditioning loan.
Safe to say, if you’re an NHL general manager who thinks Tinordi still has potential, Marc Bergevin would welcome your best offer.
Kari Lehtonen will miss at least a few games with the upper-body injury he suffered the other night against Ottawa. The Dallas Stars announced today that they’ve placed the 32-year-old goalie on injured reserve, retroactive to Tuesday.
With Lehtonen out, Jack Campbell has been called up from AHL Texas to be Antti Niemi‘s backup. The Stars host Vancouver Friday, with a game at Minnesota Saturday.
Campbell, the 11th overall pick in the 2010 draft, has struggled in the AHL this season, going 3-3-0 with an .873 save percentage.
The Stars have also recalled defenseman Patrik Nemeth after the 23-year-old completed his 14-day conditioning assignment.
Related: Campbell credits ECHL stint for turning his game around
Tim Gleason has likely played his last NHL game. The 32-year-old defenseman has informed the Carolina Hurricanes that he no longer wishes to continue his professional tryout.
“Tim informed us today he wasn’t going to continue to pursue his tryout,” said GM Ron Francis, per the club’s website. “He looked and felt good physically, but didn’t feel up to the grind of the NHL mentally.”
Gleason started last season with Carolina before he was traded to Washington in February.
In his career, he’s played 727 NHL games, plus 32 more in the playoffs.