Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Toronto Maple Leafs Keep Pace in the Eastern Conference, Remain Five Points Out

This article is by Eric Warren. Eric is also a frequent contributer to Bleacher Report.
"Optimus Reim" is the primary reason that the Leafs are still in the hunt
The Toronto Maple Leafs, after a win in Minnesota last night, still find themselves five points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and while time is growing short with only eight games left for the team in the regular season, they aren't out of it yet.

The New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers are doing their part to help the Leafs. It appears, however, that the Sabres and Hurricanes simply refuse to lose.

For the Leafs to get into the postseason, they pretty much have to win out and hope for a little help. If the Leafs do in fact win out, the Sabres would have to lose four games of their remaining nine for the Leafs to pass them into eighth place.
The Sabres' magic number to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs from postseason contention is 5.5, which equals 11pts, so if Buffalo gets 11 points (92 total points), the Leafs are done, even if they win out  and finish with 92 points, as I believe the Sabres own the tiebreakers.
The question is, of course, can the Leafs win all eight of their remaining games? Yes.
According to a recent article right here on Bleacher Report, there is reason to be happy about the Leafs' remaining schedule, as they play five of their remaining eight games on the road.
In the Leafs last 10 road games, they are 7-2-2 and have outscored their opposition 25-22.
While it is no surprise that some fans are quick to point out that if not for the mostly excellent play of rookie goaltender James Reimer the Leafs would be nowhere close to where they are now, it is worth noting that more goalies carry their team than players at any other position.

Just ask former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaro Halak.

The Leafs recently announced the signing of Tyler Brenner. Brenner is a 22-year-old winger who, until recently, was playing with the RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) Tigers, where he led the team in goals with 26 and had 41 points in 37 games.

Brenner is a winger who has also played defense, and in terms of comparison to a current Leafs player, he has Kullemin-type potential.
According to various scouting reports, including this one, Brenner, at 6'2'', not only has decent size, but also plays the kind of all-around game that is sought after by most NHL teams.

Brenner, who signed a two-year, entry-level deal, will report to the Marlies for the rest of this season.

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