If you’re groping for symbolism from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 4-3 shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres, maybe the Buds going 3-for-3 on their shootout attempts would do the trick:
Actually, maybe it’s the win overall that really captures the polarizing sentiments the Leafs often draw. For some, it was a sloppy victory against the league’s worst team. Others will be quicker to take the optimistic side, which is that Toronto is now on a much-needed three-game winning streak.
One thing that’s not subjective: they now lead the league in shootout wins, as they improved to 9-4 in that category on the season.
There’s also no denying that many of their wins have come beyond regulation lately. Eight of their 11 wins since Nov. 23 have come either in the shootout or overtime. (Six came in shootouts.)
The happier bottom line for the Maple Leafs is that they find themselves in a comfortable position as of this moment, as their 24-20-5 record gives them 53 standings points, placing them fifth overall in the East at the time of this writing.
In other words, the questions of the Leafs’ validity as a legitimate playoff contender probably won’t go away, so apologies/enjoy.