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Leafs head to California feeling good

Phil Kessel

Phil Kessel


After arguably their best effort of the season Friday versus Columbus, the Toronto Maple Leafs kick off a tough four-game road trip tonight in Los Angeles, with stops to follow in Anaheim, San Jose, and St. Louis.

In case you missed it, the Leafs beat the Blue Jackets, 5-2. More importantly, they were fully deserving of the win, controlling the puck and holding Columbus to just 20 shots -- a good sign for a Toronto side that’s given up 40 or more shots 11 times in 2014-15, that being a big reason coach Randy Carlyle was fired last week.

“The guys are responding pretty well,” interim coach Peter Horachek said, per “We’ve been positive and they’re in a good frame of mind right now.”

Of course, there’s reason to be wary. This is a team that’s shown glimpses of good play in the past. It’s consistency that’s been the problem.

With just three wins in their last 11, the Leafs have fallen out of a playoff spot. They now sit three points back of the Boston Bruins, who currently hold down the second wild-card spot, and two points back of the Florida Panthers, who also have two games in hand.

While the Pacific Division isn’t quite so scary this season, it would be a good accomplishment for the Leafs to finish the road trip with a .500 record, after which their schedule eases up a touch.