The inconsistent Toronto Maple Leafs have used a six-game winning streak to propel the team back into a playoff position with the Olympic break just around the corner.
Prior to the win streak, the Maple Leafs had lost four in a row and endured back-to-back difficult months that saw the team win only four games in regulation between the start of November and the end of December. The team’s struggles erased all the positive Toronto had created with their 10-4 start to the season, as suddenly the Maple Leafs had fallen out of a playoff position for the first time all season.
With Toronto losing four in a row after winning the Winter Classic to begin the New Year, along with multiple teams passing the Maple Leafs as they plummeted in the standings, nobody saw Toronto’s current win streak coming. After all, there was very little optimism surrounding the club as it seemed as if every area of the team was struggling in one way or another. The offense wasn’t producing, the defense couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone and the goaltenders were getting pulled too frequently.
The Maple Leafs had hit rock bottom on their season and fans were starting to demand heads. Trade rumors surrounded the club as fans were volunteering to drive certain players to the airport, while many were wondering if a coaching change is what was needed for the team to turn things around. Then, quicker than a Phil Kessel wrist shot, Toronto has used their current win streak to rocket up the standings and unquestionably save their season.
Toronto is tied for the most games played in the league with 52 while accumulating 59 points in the standings. They currently hold the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference, while being at least five points better than the teams behind them in the standings. The Maple Leafs are also now tied for third in the Atlantic Division with the Montreal Canadiens, however, the Canadiens have only played 50 games to date.
Had Toronto continued to struggle, they’d easily be several points out of a wild card position, but their current win streak now has Montreal looking over their shoulders. Two weeks ago, the Maple Leafs were nearly double-digit points behind the Canadiens and it seemed unlikely Toronto would have any chance of catching them in the standings.
Toronto’s win streak has saved their season as the panic button had been pressed in the city with how bad the team was playing. Now that the Maple Leafs are in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings, they need to continue to ride the momentum from the win streak into the Olympic break. If this season has taught Maple Leaf fans anything, it’s that every high seems to be followed by a low, which is exactly why Toronto needs to continue to record points while they can before the team’s struggles return.