Try as I might, it’s impossible not to make this column about the Maple Leafs. I mean, here’s a team that could have pulled to within a single point of the Canadiens with a win over Montreal on March 22. Instead, Toronto dropped that decision, and the loss has sent the Leafs spiraling into an epic late season collapse. They’ve lost eight in a row and now trail the Habs by 13 points. That leaves Toronto with a 4.9 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to SportsClubStats.com.
Plus, there’s an an ex-heavyweight champ looking to beat up coach Randy Carlyle, so every Maple Leafs’ game now becomes a death watch in more ways than one.
Toronto is still, of course, in the race in the tightly packed Eastern Conference, but the Leafs need to start winning some games, starting with Tuesday night’s contest against the Flames, a team that’s only too happy to play the spoiler down the stretch as it tries to establish an identity that will carry it into contention a few years down the road.
Here’s a look at that contest, and five other must-watch matches on the schedule this week: