Maple Leafs: Should We Settle For Mediocrity?

Dino MoriAnalyst IDecember 17, 2008

Raise your right hand Maple Leaf fans if you thought 30 games into the 2008-09 regular season you're team would be at the .500 mark.

Anyone?  Bueller?  Anyone?

Even the most devoted blue and white supporter would have a tough time saying it with a straight face.

But, statistics don't lie and after yesterday's 3-2 shootout victory against New Jersey, Toronto is 12-12-6.  They currently sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings with 30 points; three back of the Buffalo Sabres who occupy the 8th and final playoff spot.

Who could have imagined the Leafs at such a lofty perch 1/3 of the way thus far.

Anyone?  Bueller?  Anyone?

Now, I know there are cynics out there that are wondering why I'm making such a big deal out of an 11th place club.

Moreso, if the Leafs finish higher in the standings, then they run the risk of losing out on blue chip prospects such as John Tavares of the OHL's Oshawa Generals, Victor Hedman of  Modo (Sweden's top junior club) or Jared Cowen of the WHL's Spokane Chiefs.

Furthermore, I don't view the world through rose colored glasses.

I understand that the Leafs are in a re-building mode, spurred on by the hiring of both former Anaheim GM Brian Burke and ex-San Jose coach Ron Wilson.

I agree that the Leafs shouldn't be thinking short term, but rather the opposite as they endeavor to rebuild this once proud franchise.

But, wouldn't it be an even bigger rags to riches story if the Leafs continued down their current plight and made the playoffs.

Thus far, the Leafs have seen its share of ups and downs.  From their surprising opening night victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions, Detroit Red Wings to a lopsided home defeat at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.

Those two games are a microcosm of the Leafs season to date.

Other highlights and low lights this season:

On Nov. 1, Toronto exploded for five third period goals in a come-from-behind 5-2 win over the Rangers, then blew a 3-1 late second period lead the next night in Carolina, losing 6-4 to the 'Canes.

They lose eight of ten during a stretch from Nov. 15 to Dec. 6, only to follow with their first three-game win streak of this season.

30 points in 30 games.

Who would have thought that was a possibility after the summer of doom and gloom and a captain who jumped ship?