As the painful 2009-10 Maple Leafs season comes to a close this week, the hometown fans got one last reminder of how far this team needs to go to be not only in the top eight to make the playoffs next season but to be a top contender in the East. The playoff hopeful Philadelphia Flyers squad downed the Leafs 2-0 in what was a must win game for both teams, but for very different reasons.
There was a good amount of talk before the game as no one was sure if Phil Kessel would play. After sustaining an undisclosed injury on the weekend, the team could not get Phil to get an MRI due to the holiday on Monday. Phil did however take the pre-game skate and was fit to go. Even the knowledge of the Leafs top scorer in the line up couldn’t get the Leafs engine going as they struggled to get good chances throughout the game.
The power play has been awful since the Olympic break and it was proven again last night, as they went 0-for-5 on the man advantage. While the Leafs have had success at winning lately, a team can’t true succeed without the help of special teams and that cost the Maple Leafs two valuable points as their hopes of moving out of the lottery are all by diminished.
The lone bright spot was the solid play of goaltender Jean-Sebastain Giguere. Giggy controlled round well and was very square to the shooter. The Leafs netminder looked comfortable out there, but sadly the offense couldn’t reward their goalie for all his hard work.
For the Flyers, this win puts them at 86 points and seventh in the East. They are fighting for their playoffs lives with Boston Bruins one point below them and the New York Rangers just on the outside looking in. It will be a fight to the finish for those teams to see which ones will get to continue playing and which ones will be packing up their lockers at the end of the week.
For the Leafs, the writing has been on the wall for some time but that has not crushed their spirits. While last night’s effort was certainly not their best, they have enjoyed one of the best records since the break and hope that it can carry over into next season.
Tonight the Leafs will face off against the Rangers then they’ll finish out the season against their rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Depending on how other teams do, the Leafs have two more chances to play spoiler and possibly knock one or maybe both teams out of the playoffs.
For Leafs fans, that might be the only joy left.