As of Monday morning, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in a dogfight for the third spot in the Atlantic division.
The Tampa Bay Lightning currently holds the third spot with 59 points. Right behind them are the Leafs with 58 points, and just behind the Leafs are the Detroit Red Wings with 57 points. One important thing to point out is that both the Lightning (50) and Red Wings (49) have played more games than the Leafs (47). (Standings from NHL.com)
The Leafs currently hold the first wildcard spot, while the Red Wings hold the second. With five teams from the Atlantic Division holding playoff spots, it shows you how tough of a division it is.
Hopefully, the Leafs can use their games in hand to stay ahead of the Red Wings and pass the Lightning to claim the third spot. Although, finishing in a wildcard spot might not be the worst option for the Leafs.
Toronto Maple Leafs Fighting for Divisional Playoff Spot
As most of you know, the team who finishes the season as the third seed in the division will play the team who finishes as the second seed.
The second seed in the Atlantic Division belongs to the Florida Panthers. However, they are five points behind the first-place Boston Bruins, so where they finish could change between now and the playoffs. I'm sure many fans would like to see a rematch from last season's round two between the Panthers and Leafs, only this time we hope the Leafs are victorious.
Should the Leafs enter the playoffs in one of the wildcard spots, they could still potentially face the Panthers in round one. The Panthers could finish first in the division, and if they are the top team in the eastern conference, they will play the second wildcard team.
However, if a team from the Metropolitan Division finishes first in the conference, that team will play the second wildcard team. It is such a tight race that the Leafs could play the Lightning, Panthers, Bruins, or the top team from the Metropolitan Division in round one.
The Leafs have 35 games remaining in the 2023-24 regular season. They need a successful run after the NHL All-Star break, which begins on Thursday, February 1st. It has been a very up-and-down season for the Leafs.
A winning streak of five games or more would be nice. The Leafs are currently on a three-game winning streak. They will look to continue their winning streak on February 5th when they host the New York Islanders.