TSN : NHL-MAPLE LEAFS - Canada's Sports LeaderMaple Leafs face a test on the road
10/22/2006 1:01:32 PM
TORONTO (CP) - The take on the Toronto Maple Leafs before the start of the NHL season was that they'd struggle to make the playoffs.
Even new coach Paul Maurice agreed that it would be nip and tuck all the way.
Nine games in, the Leafs are laughing. They have 11 of a possible 18 points, which puts them on pace to finish with 100 - enough to get into Stanley Cup play.
Now comes the tricky part: after a home date Tuesday with Ottawa, there'll be five away games in the following six. This challenge in the next two weeks will go a long way toward determining if they can maintain their top-eight status in the Eastern Conference.
The Leafs are in Ottawa on Thursday and Montreal on Saturday, return home to play Atlanta on Halloween Monday, then start November at Tampa Bay, Florida and Buffalo.
I don't know about "laughing". I knew that they would be a much better team this year than last year, that's no surprise.
They improved here and there, and it all adds up to a better season... or at least a better start. They always start off the season quite horribly, but this year they've been decent just under 10 games in.
As for the schedule, that home-and-home with Ottawa should be crucial. They need to grab at least a win there. They also need to finally string together 2 wins with any pairing of the next 5 road games, because I don't think that they have won games consecutively this year. As "good" as they've been, they've been very inconsitent as well. Doing it on the road could do wonders for the team. Not saying that it guarantees victories at at home, but it should help with their consistency a little knowing that they're able to pull it off at another team's building.