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Playoff bubble watch — Leafs edition

Mar 19, 2014, 11:18 AM EDT

With three regulation losses in their last four, plus an injured number-one goalie, the Toronto Maple Leafs have seen their chances to make the playoffs fall from almost 90 percent to 75.9, per Sports Club Stats.

Certainly, that’s still a pretty high probability they’ll be playing past the end of the regular season, but when a team becomes synonymous with collapses — be they down the stretch or in Game 7 of the first round — the fans start to worry a bit.

Last night’s 3-2 loss to Detroit was doubly significant as the Red Wings are one of the clubs trying to chase down Toronto for a wild-card spot in the East.

source:  Following the game, Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle was critical of his goalie, James Reimer, who’s been forced into regular action after Jonathan Bernier injured his groin.

“I thought he was okay, you know, just okay,” said Carlyle of Reimer, per

And with the number of shots the Leafs surrender on average — the most in the NHL (36.3), in case you wondering — “just okay” isn’t usually going to be good enough.

Bernier was on the ice this morning, but he’s not expected to play tonight versus Tampa Bay, and there’s no time line for his return. For now, the crease is Reimer’s.

The Leafs can probably get away with playing .500 hockey — or maybe even a bit below — for the rest of the season and still make the playoffs. And with their schedule, that’s not a huge ask.

But if there’s one fan base that’s learned not to count its chickens before they’ve hatched, it might be the big, passionate one in Toronto.

Related: Leafs finally make playoffs, then collapse

  1. georgejarkko - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    “when a team becomes synonymous with collapses — be they down the stretch or in Game 7 of the first round — the fans start to worry a bit.”
    That could just as likely be written about the Lightning as the Leafs.

  2. phillyphanatic77 - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    I think Carlyle is way out of line with this. Granted I only saw the highlights but it seemed like the team in front of Reimer didn’t do their best to help their goalie. That kick save was pretty unbelievable. If you’re a team in a tight playoff race, with a penchant for giving away leads (esp in big games), how does it help your team to throw your goalie under the bus? If Bernier has groin issues or suffers another injury down the stretch then you need to rely on Reimer, who’s a pretty damn good goalie.

    Maybe a Leafs fan can straighten me out but Carlyle just looks like a dbag here.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      Nope, can’t help you, other than what I wrote below. I’m equally perplexed. Seems that this is just the Maple Leaf Way in action.

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Why Carlyle continues to throw Reimer under the bus is beyond me. Bernier is the number one guy, I get that. But he’s had his questionable outings without the same degree of shaming. Last time I checked Reimer is still on the team and thus doesn’t deserve that treatment.

    Poor guy has the skills and mentality to be a starter in this league. So, in line with Leafs tradition, he’ll be ridden out of town in exchange for a no-name prospect and a late-round pick. He will go on to win either a Stanley Cup or a Vezina or both as the Leafs keep chasing Cubs-like levels of futility.

  4. slaugin - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    I thought Reimer was the #1 reason the Leafs got as far as they did in that 7 game series Vs Boston

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