The Toronto Maple Leafs were embarrassed again last night. A 7-1 home loss to the Flyers was just the latest dreadful performance in what’s been one of the most monumental late-season collapses in NHL history.
Since Feb. 6 – when the Leafs were 28-19-6 and on the way to their first playoff appearance since 2003 – they’ve gone 5-17-3 without a single victory at the Air Canada Centre.
They haven’t just lost games either — they’ve lost them spectacularly. Five of them by four goals or more. One 8-0.
“It doesn’t get much more embarrassing than that,” Leafs defenseman Cody Franson said after last night’s 7-1 defeat. “It’s one of those situations right now where it seems like no matter what we try to do it’s just not working. We’re having a tough time getting through it right now.”
There have been similar, and arguably worse, collapses in other sports. The 2011 Red Sox lost 18 of their final 24 to blow a nine-game lead over the Rays, topping it off with a blown save in the final game of the season. The 2007 Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 games left. The 1993 Dolphins started 9-2 and finished 0-5 to miss the playoffs.
But what about NHL late-season collapses that resulted in teams missing the playoffs? The 2006-07 Oilers were 28-24-4 on Feb. 11 and went 4-19-3 down the stretch, but they didn’t fall out of a playoff spot. The 2002-03 Penguins fell apart, but their fall started in January, so calling it a “late-season” collapse is a bit of a stretch.
Anyway, if any of you can think of (or Google) something, please share it in the comments section. Maybe we’re missing an obvious one.