The Toronto Maple Leafs (More or Less) Clinch Playoff Birth

Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost five games in a row (though, to be clear, they lost two of those in over-time, and were the better team in four of them) and it was interesting to see how they would respond in two games against the “second best” team in their division.  (I qualify those quotations by saying that I think Edmonton, despite the standings, is actually the second best team in the North).

So how did the Toronto Maple Leafs respond? With back-to-back wins, all but locking up the North Division Tile (sorry, I’m never using the sponsorship name).

In the first game, the Leafs weren’t the best team, but they managed to pick up a much deserved win (since Winnipeg won at least three times vs Toronto this year while failing to be the better team).

In game two, it was all Leafs all the time and it was a glorious victory, the likes of which… see all the time when you’re the actual best team in the game – so business as usual for the Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs Bests the Jets Again

When last night’s final buzzer sounded, the Leafs were guaranteed a winning record against the Jets, and every other team in the division except Montreal.  The Leafs play the Habs four more times and if they lose all four, Montreal will tie them.   Not too shabby.

The Leafs can no longer be caught by Calgary, and the only way they can miss the playoffs is if Vancouver wins pretty much every remaining game, while the Leafs finish the year on an eight game losing streak. It would be pretty crazy if Vancouver, who are not a good team under the best of circumstances, suddenly did something not even the best team of all time would be likely to do.

The Leafs have an eight point lead over the second place team in their division, and the biggest lead in any other division is four points.  Not bad.  The Toronto Maple Leafs still have an outside shot at the President’s Trophy, but are currently five points out, in seventh place overall.

While it’d be nice to win the first President’s Trophy in franchise history, since the Leafs don’t even play any of the teams they’re competing with, it’s hard to figure out what the proper context for such a trophy even is. (stats from

Much was made of the North being an easy division, but I think the season has proved that to be a pretty dumb take.  If anything, with one less team to beat up on, and more games against the better teams, the Leafs may actually have a harder schedule than other teams.

As far as I can tell, every other division has at least two teams as bad as Ottawa, a team, ironically, the Leafs seem to have the biggest trouble with.

Next. More Robertson, Less Thornton. dark

Anyways, bottom line: The Leafs are one of the NHL’s best teams, they’ve clinched a playoff spot and this is (so far) the best season they’ve put together in decades.