Maple Leafs Watch: Toronto Looks for Wins from Lightning and Thrashers

Peter BojarinovAnalyst IMarch 13, 2008

Tonight was my night off from the Leafs.

Being a Leaf fan, I can do whatever I please on this Thursday night. No worries, no thoughts, no hip hip hoorays, no tears in my eye. I can just go out with a couple of friends, chat about the good times, have some dinner at Mucho Burrito,  watch The Bank Job at a near movie theatre, have a cup of brew after, then head home and hit the hay.

No, that is not what a true die hard Leaf fan would be doing tonight. During every opportunity I would be glancing at who was playing tonight, how it would impact the Leafs in any situation, what the current score was, and finally see what the end result is.

During work today, I briefly looked at the standings then at the games about to be played tonight. The Boston Bruins sitting at 7th place with 80 points, just 1 point ahead of the Flyers, which is a total of 6 points ahead of the Leafs. A loss to the Bruins would mean another opportunity is in reachable mathematical proportions to the Leafs obtaining their spot in the top 8 playoff teams. 

The Bruins tonight were playing the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team at the bottom of the totem pole of the conference with 64 points. A win for them would bring them 2 points closer to the Leafs, which means a better chance in the Stamkos race.

Another team closing in on the Stamkos race is the Atlanta Thrashers, who are just above Tampa Bay for 2nd last in the conference with 70 points, another team who could reach the Leafs in points by the end of the season, a 2 point night for them, would better the Leafs chances as well in the Stamkos race. The Thrashers were playing the hot Calgary Flames tonight.

After glancing, viewing, and reviewing the scores all night:

The fresh goalie who was supposed to give Tampa a new life, Mike Smith, did on this night. A 35 save performance, with goals from Halpern, Karlsson, and Lecavalier. A final 3-1 score over the Bruins. The Bruins still not playing well, with their captain Zdeno Chara still out, missing his 3rd straight game, and Tim Thomas not having a great 2 weeks.

On the other side of things in Georgia, there was a shootout in the O.K. Corral. The wide eyed snipers that is Ilya Kovalchuk had a hat-trick in a comeback win against the Flames. Final score 6 to 4 for the Thrashers over the Flames, which also saw Jerome Iginla score 2 goals. 

After checking out the scores, I had a smile on my face. I knew then our Leafs' slim playoff chances were that... slim. But that means they do have a chance, and if they continue their play, their chances of making these playoffs this coming spring aren't as hopeless after all.