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Blowouts deflate what’s left of Leafs, Bolts’ playoff dreams

Mar 19, 2012, 10:43 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Lightning v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs or Tampa Bay Lightning fan, you’d have to be very optimistic to carry playoff dreams into Monday night. After both teams were absolutely embarrassed, even the biggest dreamers can put those thoughts to bed.

Boston completes the sweep

Toronto can look back at – and Brian Burke might just base his firing upon – an absolutely embarrassing season series against the Boston Bruins. It seemed like whenever the Bruins needed a pick-me-up, they needed only to turn to Toronto, as tonight’s 8-0 thrashing completed a ridiculous sweep:

Oct. 20: Bruins win 6-2.
Nov. 5: Bruins win 7-0.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 3: Bruins win home-and-home set 6-3 and 4-1.
March 6: Maple Leafs actually complete but lose 5-4.
Today: Boston dominates 8-0.

To recap, that’s a 36-10 disadvantage, with two shutouts. (Tim Thomas only needed 13 saves for a goose egg tonight, by the way.)

If you want a more thematic explanation, Milan Lucic‘s beating of Mike Komisarek is pretty symbolic, violent and fitting.

Buffalo douses Lightning

The Lightning won’t have the same regret when looking back at their games against the Buffalo Sabres, however. In fact, with Tampa Bay winning the previous three contests in regulation, Buffalo’s 7-3 demolition is more like revenge than the Boston-Toronto situation – which is essentially another ton of dirt kicked in Burke’s face.

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With the Washington Capitals holding on to win 5-3 against the Detroit Red Wings tonight, the Sabres are still behind the eight-ball in a tight three-team race for the last spot in the Eastern Conference. (Winnipeg’s last-minute fumbling loss to the Carolina Hurricanes from Sunday certainly doesn’t hurt matters, though.)

The race for eighth

Speaking of which, here’s what the East’s No. 8 race looks like now:

8. Washington: 80 points, nine games left (37 wins, 35 in regulation/OT)

9. Buffalo (won tonight): 78 points, nine games left (34 wins, 27 in regulation/OT)
10. Winnipeg (lost last night): 76 points, 10 games left (34 wins, 30 in regulation/OT)

The Sabres essentially rotate home and away games until the end of the season, when they face a tough duo of closing road games: at Philadelphia (April 5) and at Boston (April 7). In other words, if Buffalo makes it, they’ll get to the playoffs by earning it.

(Oh, and if you’re into odds, Sports Club Stats gives Washington a 73.2 percent chance to make the playoffs (up 9.9), Winnipeg a 16.1 percent shot (down 5.8) and Buffalo a 15.5 chance – up 2.5.)

  1. uscthom78 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    Now theirs basically a zero percent chance of a canadian team winning the cup.

  2. habsman - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    Obviously not a Leaf fan. But the silver lining is that the American Clown Brian Burke has been exposed for the fraud he is.

    Second youngest team in the league and they’re up against the cap. What does that tell you about his managing? Poor high drafting (Schenn, Kadri), high salaries to busts (Lombardi, Komisarek, Connely).

    The worst part? He has set up a divisional rival (Bruins) for the next ten years with the Kessel trade. But be very careful about criticizing Mr. Burke publically. He will do his best to get you fired.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:44 PM

      Who should he have drafted instead of Schenn and Kadri?

      • habsman - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:05 AM

        mojo,

        Drafted after Schenn: Eberly, DelZotto, Karllson, Baily, Hodgeson, Myers….
        Drafted after Kadri: Cowen, Ellis, Kassian, Kreider….

        Admitedly these were not strong drafts, but he could have done much better.

        What about the signings? You got no problem with them? Not withstanding Hamilton and Knight, would you trade Seguin straight up for Kessel? (Deemed softest player in the league by his peers)

        I could also argue that White is better than Phanuef

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:09 AM

        Admittedly, the draft can be a crapshoot, but with the advantage of hindsight, Michael Del Zotto and Erik Karlsson were available when the Leafs took Schenn; the best of the ’09 crop were gone when Toronto picked Kadri, although a case could be made that Paajarvi and Kulikov have done better so far.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:20 AM

        Hindsight is great, but Schenn was projected to be a better defenseman than Del Zotto or Karlsson. The other guys you name, with the exception of Eberle, haven’t exactly been killing it in The Show.

        I liked White and you can argue that he is better than Phaneuf all you want, but we have enough puck-moving defensemen without him.

        Burke has not been the distater everybody has decided he is. Nobody was saying that when this same team was 4 points out of 5th place just over a month ago. I’m willing to give him and the team the benefit of the doubt seeing as this is the first season most of these guys have been together. It usually takes more than one season for guys to gel.

      • habsman - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:40 AM

        It was just about a month ago I told you that the Leafs would be down in the basement with us. Forgot?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:14 AM

        This is true, but you never said this team is garbage and that Burke doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground like you are now.

      • habsman - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:53 AM

        You haven’t been paying attention.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:02 AM

        I have and you never said that when you “predicted” the Leafs would be joining the Habs in the basement. You, like everyone else, has jumped on this anti-Burke bandwagon since the collapse.

      • habsman - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:16 AM

        If after 4 years, your team is in 12th place and heading south, wouldn’t that be an indication that your team is crap and your GM doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground? Do I really have to explain that to you?

        The Leafs haven’t made the PO’s in seven years (4 under Burkie), they will end up with less points than last year, they have little cap space even though they’re the second youngest team in the league, and they fired a hall of fame coach in season. Yet according to you, they will be alright as soon as they “gell.” OK, got it.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:30 AM

        This is the first year since the lockout that they’ve had a respectable team that’s been relevant late in the season. I’m willing to give them more than one year, especially sine they’re the second youngest team and will likely build on this season.

    • homelanddefense - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:53 AM

      what the hell does it matter that he is American? Why all the parochialism?

  3. vipod4ever - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    Kessel for Seguin + Hamilton = Good Night to Mr.Truculense
    oh, the Leafs need a goalie? can’t forget about the Raycroft for Rask deal. What a joke of an organization.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:43 PM

      Raycroft for Rask wasn’t Burke’s doing.

  4. lsxphotog - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Tampa, what a disappointment. While the AHL call-ups were certainly very good, the lack of cohesion on the ice was a problem that plagued the team all season – even before the Scratch Fairy came in. They played solid since the break, but since Garon’s injury, the team looked deflated and lacking that lust for a win. Maybe I’m just overly critical…who knows.

  5. homelanddefense - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    On the NESN broadcast last night they said only two teams havent made the playoffs since the lockout. The Panthers and the Leafs, looks like Florida will get in this year…

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