Toronto Maple Leafs clinch 2013 playoff spot


If you just heard a huge cheer coming from the general Ontario area, you might not be mistaken. The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Saturday to clinch their first playoff berth since the 2003-04 season.

The NHL’s longest playoff drought now belongs to the Edmonton Oilers (they haven’t made it since they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals).

Like many nights this season, the Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk combo fueled the offense (Kessel assisted on two JVR goals) while James Reimer was the biggest difference-maker (49 out of 50 saves).

You’ll probably read plenty of “the last time Toronto made the postseason” jokes and facts in the next hour or so, but here’s an especially good one from The Score to whet your appetite:

At this moment, the Maple Leafs hold the fifth seed in the East, but that can change (especially if the New York Islanders remain hot). Regardless, plenty of Toronto fans probably feel euphoric just to have this conversation once again.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.