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Loser of tonight’s Carolina-Toronto game is eliminated from playoff contention

James Reimer; Chad LaRose

Carolina Hurricanes Chad LaRose collides with Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer after being pushed into the net by Leafs defenseman Cody Franson during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday Dec. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)


While it doesn’t have the allure that tonight’s Sabres-Capitals game does, there’s something on the line for the Leafs and Hurricanes for their battle in Toronto.

The loser of their game tonight is officially eliminated from playoff contention and as David Steckel tells Sportsnet, for some reason the Leafs want to keep winning.

“We’re trying to win every game regardless of whether we get booed or we get cheered,” Toronto’s David Steckel said after a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday.

While no one is going to catch Columbus for the worst record in the league, the 29th spot is still up for grabs with the Canadiens and Oilers there with 71 points. Finishing lower means being able to slide into a spot in the draft to land any of Nail Yakupov, Mikhail Grigorenko, or Alex Galchenyuk.

With the Leafs and Hurricanes both at 75 points with just a handful of games to go and the bottom of the standings being as packed as the top, wins can push you into a lower pick and not being able to get at the top-end talent in this year’s draft class. For teams like the Leafs and Hurricanes who could use elite draft talent to turn things around, winning for pride only hurts the future.