After the resolve shown by the buds tonight in coming from behind in the third period to beat the Philadelphia Flyers, there is still a glimmer of hope that post season hockey will be played at the Air Canada Centre.
That glimmer is much more shiny than the one seen at the beginning of the third period.
The final score had little to do with the glimmer becoming brighter, although the two points do help their situation.
What made that glimmer brighten was the heart that the blue and white showed tonight after peppering shot after shot at Flyers goalie Martin Biron.
They were getting nowhere fast and Biron seemed unbeatable when the captain, a leader heart and soul, took it into his own hands to spark the team. Sundin potted a power play goal at 4:48 of the third period. The wind seemed to come back into the rest of the team's sails as they played their hearts out down the stretch.
Pavel Kubina would draw the Leafs to within one and then young Jeremy Williams would score a goal scorer's goal from the left circle, putting it top shelf to even the score at three.
The Maple Leafs should have won the game in the dying minutes as they pulled the goaltender, Toskala, in favour of the extra attacker and the two points victory would bring. The season was hanging in the balance as a goal into the Leafs' empty net would surely all but eliminate Toronto from the playoffs.
Ponikarovsky would find himself all alone in front of the net with Biron looking like a wounded flamingo, flailing his limbs hopelessly. With the game on his stick Ponikarovsky shot butand the puck somehow stayed out, thanks largely to a last ditch effort by Jason Smith.
The controversial play showed the defender throwing his stick at the puck, knocking it out of the air and keeping it out of the net. The day was saved momentarily for the Flyers as the two teams headed to overtime.
In OT the Blue and White dominated the Flyers on their way to another Pavel Kubina goal and the win, gaining a valuable point on the eighth place Flyers.
The Playoff Picture
With eleven games remaining, the Leafs look to position themselves for a solid run at a playoff spot. They now have 72 points and with a possible 22 points up for grabs it is not unrealistic to think the Leafs need at least 18 of them to make the playoffs. Their opponents over those eleven games are all teams in the Eastern Conference and seven of the matchups are against teams directly competing with Toronto for that last playoff spot.
The points and games remaining breaks down as follows:
7: Boston--80pts--11 games left
8: Philadelphia--79pts--12 games left
9: Buffalo--75 pts--12 games left
10: Washington--72pts--12 games left
11: Florida--72pts--11 games left
12: Toronto--72pts--11 games left
Florida has one more win than Toronto so they have the tie breaker at the moment.
Theoretically 90 points should get you one of the playoff spots but it might be more like 92 points. Some of you may think that this is a bleak picture to paint and it is; Therefore, you may be wondering why I am saying that the glimmer of hope has been brightened with tonight's win.
My reason is simple. It is a win, like the one they captured tonight, that propels a team to greatness. This is the fuel that creates major winning streaks and a coming-togetherness as a team. The desire is usually greater to win for the guy sitting beside you in the locker room than it is to win for yourself.
The Leafs are not out of it yet, not by a long shot, but they need to keep the ball rolling and a win Wednesday night in the 'city of brotherly love' could be the catalyst that propels this team to post-season hockey.
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