Yes, everything came up Maple Leafs tonight
In an era of “loser points” and three-point games, it’s rare to see a team win a night as conclusively as the Toronto Maple Leafs prospered on Thursday.
(It must be especially sweet for Toronto considering how glum Tuesday looked.)
Most directly, they didn’t just beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in regulation, they dominated by a score of 5-0. They chased Andrei Vasilevskiy early in a game that got out of hand quickly.
If that wasn’t positive enough, just about every other relevant team failed to muster even a standings point. The Islanders, Flyers and Panthers joined the Lightning as key East bubble teams who ended the evening with a goose egg (with the Flyers suffering a defeat that was arguably more embarrassing that Tampa Bay’s tumble).
About the only competitor who made gains were the Carolina Hurricanes (3-1 win against Minnesota) and it remains to be seen if they’ll be a legitimate contender for one of the conference’s final spots. The odds certainly aren’t in their favor.
Speaking of which, here’s an updated look at the race for the East’s final wild card spot:
Final spot: Maple Leafs - 78 points in 69 games (31 ROW, 32 W)
Islanders - 77 points in 70 GP (32 ROW, 33 W)
Lightning - 77 points in 70 GP (30 ROW, 34 W)
Flyers - 72 points in 70 GP (26 ROW, 32 W)
Panthers - 71 points in 69 GP (26 ROW, 30 W)
Hurricanes - 70 points in 68 GP (27 ROW, 29 W)
Yeah, that really has to sting for the Maple Leafs’ competition. Read more about the bubble teams botching Thursday’s opportunities in this post.