After dropping five straight games, the Toronto Maple Leafs have given themselves a rather daunting task to win at least six of their last nine games (according to sportsclubstats.com) in order to make the playoffs. They’re in that final wild-card spot and tied with the other wild-card team, the Detroit Red Wings, in points, but the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets are both knocking on the door and hold games in hand.
This last leg of the journey begins at home against the second-best team in the league in the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have won nine of their last 12 games and are fighting the likes of the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks for first place in the Western Conference. They’re also only one point behind the Boston Bruins for the Presidents’ Trophy, which would be a big deal if anybody really cared about the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Leafs will likely welcome back starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier to the crease tonight. Bernier has missed all five games of the Leafs’ losing streak due to a groin injury he suffered in a March 13 game against the Los Angeles Kings. The Blues will counter with Ryan Miller, who has been dominant all season with both the Buffalo Sabres and Blues and has a .922 save percentage in 49 career games against the Leafs.
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Will the Leafs step up and show the necessary amount of desperation as they fight for their playoff lives against one of the best teams in the league tonight? I certainly hope so. It’s now or never. GO LEAFS GO!!!!!