At this rate, this generation of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be best known for its remarkable collapses. After going from 28-19-6 to 35-37-10 in 2011-12 and their late collapse in Game 7 of the first round in the 2013 playoffs, Toronto is once again faltering with seven straight regulation time losses in March.
The Maple Leafs have just 80 points in 75 games following their latest 4-2 setback against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. They are technically part of a four-way tie with Columbus, Detroit, and Washington for the two Wild Card spots, but Toronto has played in two more contests than any of them.
The Maple Leafs don’t have time to dwell on that though as they’re scheduled to play against the Red Wings tonight.
“A lot of things are going against us, so we just have to take it for what it is and regroup,” Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said in his postgame interview. On tonight’s contest he added, “It’s the biggest game of the year.”
At this point, the question of why Carlyle believes that his team can salvage the season was brought up.
“They’ve proven to us before that they can play the game at a high level,” he said simply, before talking about the need to cut down on turnovers and win more one-on-one battles.
There was a time before the two teams found themselves in separate conferences, that the Maple Leafs and Red Wings were considered fierce rivals. Now that they have been reunited thanks to the realignment, it seems appropriate that both teams’ fates depend so significantly on tonight’s match.