3 reasons why the Maple Leafs will maintain a top-three spot for the NHL playoffs

The NHL playoffs are just over a month away and the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing in a conference whose playoff picture remains unsettled.

Carolina Hurricanes v Toronto Maple Leafs
Carolina Hurricanes v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have 85 points and they seem to be firmly entrenched in snagging a top-three spot in the Atlantic Division, set to play either the Boston Bruins or the Florida Panthers in the First Round of the NHL playoffs. But when you look at the entire conference, especially among wild card contenders, it seems like few teams are interested in maintaining their current playoff spot. 

Look at the Detroit Red Wings, a team that once looked like a surefire wild card contender. Or the Philadelphia Flyers, who have struggled in their last 10 games and are only three points ahead of their division rivals, the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals. 

However, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been winning, the Red Wings could resurge, and even the Buffalo Sabres have turned a corner. So even if the Maple Leafs look like they will secure the third seed, is it as clear-cut as it seems?

Toronto has been a remarkable 12-3-1 since February 13th, with an incredible 65 goals in those 16 games, and they have scored four or more goals in 10 of those wins. They look like the Eastern Conference’s best team next to the Bruins and Panthers, and few would believe this team could slip up. 

Maple Leafs may not be immune to slip-ups like other teams in the East

Nobody knows slip-ups more than the Red Wings, who have lost seven of eight dating back to late February. We are over halfway through March and they have won just a single game this month, and it shows just how easily a team can look like they are in control of their destiny, only to fall out of the second wild card at times. 

Despite their recent overtime loss, Toronto looks like they’re peaking at the moment, and they very well could be, but thanks to how unpredictable things get during the NHL playoff race, we can’t just assume the Maple Leafs will be, at worst, a third seed following their 82nd game of the season. 

However, Toronto has also given us plenty of reasons to believe they won’t fall into the same trap as the Islanders, the Flyers, and the Red Wings.