Here’s how the standings look right now:
The big surprise there is Boston, which has just four fewer regulation losses than the Sabres. The B’s barely got past Buffalo yesterday, needing a late goal in order to win in overtime. The Bruins’ offense currently ranks 21st in the NHL; hence, all the trade speculation.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs have lost three straight by a combined score of 15-5. This after a 10-1-1 stretch, which followed a three-game losing streak by a combined score of 17-5. There’s no bigger roller-coaster in the league than Toronto. And, oh by the way, the Leafs play 15 of their next 19 games on the road.
The x-factor in all this could be Florida. Consider: if the Panthers finish top five in the division, at least one of Montreal, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Toronto or Boston will miss the playoffs. Florida’s record may not look all that impressive, but the Panthers, a decent puck-possession team with a positive shot differential, rarely get blown out. In fact, they’ve only lost four times by three or more goals. Toronto, in comparison, has done that eight times.