Maple Leafs Nation: Do You BeLeaf?

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer IMarch 2, 2008

Three weeks ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in the race to land the coveted first overall pick in this year's entry draft.   With several games remaining against teams who are just above them, the Leafs have collected nine out of a possible 10 points in their last five games and sit just five points out of a playoff spot.

I think we have seen this movie before.  In fact, I think it had a sequel.  Both of which were hard to watch, and if it turned into a trilogy, people would flip their lids.

Are the Toronto Maple Leafs playoff bound?  Can they slip into the 8th spot and tangle with Montreal or Ottawa in what would surely be an unbelievably entertaining series?  After all, even marred in their worst season in recent memory, the Leafs have won their fair share of games against their two biggest rivals.

Fifteen games left for Toronto.  Five points remain between them and the eighth and final seed.  Atlanta, Washington, New York Islanders, and the Sabres (who slipped to ninth) all have at least one game at hand over the team, making the climb that much more treacherous.

But a look at the schedule reveals that March will be madness.  And we're not talking about three pointers.  We are looking at the proverbial four pointers.

In their last 15 games, the Maple Leafs will see Boston three times.  Boston sits sixth in the East right now, and conventional wisdom would say the Leafs really shouldn't be concerned with them standings wise.  However, in terms of the season series, Toronto has been competitive and has to pull out three over the B's over the next month or so.

They see the Flyers, who currently hold down the eighth spot, twice.  Tuesday and Wednesday, March 11th and 12th respectively, as a home and home.  What a way to ramp up for the post season.  With a rivalry inspiring home and home, which will likely have the feel of a playoff matchup.

A look at the schedule reveals three more games against the Sabres.  For all the Leafss struggles this year, they have looked good against their division rivals for the most part.  They have played Buffalo well, minus the last two meetings.

One more meeting with the Isles is on tap.  New York currently occupies the 10th spot in the East.

Just two meetings remain for Toronto against their Division rival Ottawa Senators.  The Leafs have played real well against Ottawa this season, and one would think if Toronto is going to squeak into the postseason, Ottawa would likely be one of their opponents.

The other likely opponent is Montreal, who Toronto will meet up with twice, including the last day of the regular season.  How fitting would that be if it were the Habs this time, winning on home ice in the season's final day, to eliminate Toronto?  It could very well happen.  Or, it could serve as a precursor, a preface to a playoff series, which would certainly not need any fuel thrown on. 

You crunch the numbers; It isn't going to be easy.  Not even close.  And the chance of the Leafs making the postseason this year, well, they are not that great, even after the big winning streak they are currently running up.

But a closer look at the schedule reveals that they themselves will determine whether or not they are going back to the playoffs.  They won't have to wait anxiously by their TV's to see whether or not they get the shot.

Judging by the games left, and their opponents, it's obvious the Maple Leafs will control their own fate this season.

Let's hope they haven't already sealed it.