Here is why Toronto has a chance at the playoffs…
Most people are writing Toronto’s chances of making the playoffs and while I will admit they have an uphill battle there are several positives on their side.
They play 2 games against Montreal. If they win those 2 games they will close the game on Montreal by 4 points. They also play Tampa on Saturday and could close the gap on them by 2 points as well.
They have 2 games against Pittsburgh who weren’t very good to start with and now are even worse that they have traded Recchi and Jackman. They play 3 games against the Islanders who have just traded Parrish, Kvasha, Sopel and Lukowich and won’t be near as good a team as they were 2 days ago (and they weren’t very good then either). They play 2 games against Boston who just traded away Samsonov and weren’t a very good team to start with. They also have a game against Florida. That is 8 fairly easy games.
The downside is that they play Buffalo 4 times and they have a lot of trouble with Buffalo. They also play Philadelphia twice and Ottawa, New Jersey, and the Rangers once each. They will probably need to win at minimum 6 or 7 of those 12 games to have a chance at the playoffs which is possible but will be a challenge.
If they win both games against Montreal, the game against Tampa, 6 of those 8 ‘easy’ games and 5 of the 11 ‘difficult’ games they will go 14-7 which will give them 89 points and a potential shot at the playoffs. Taking out the 7 games against Ottawa, Toronto is a combined 7-7-1 against those other difficult teams (NYR, Phi, Car, NJ) so going 5 for 11 in those games is definitely achievable.
Speak ing of Tampa, they are playing horrible having lost 4 of 5 since the Olympics and I don’t think they will make the playoffs. Either Toronto, or more likely Atlanta will catch them.