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Leafs need to regroup ahead of ‘biggest game of the year’

Mar 29, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle, back center, looks over his players while playing against the St. Louis Blues during second period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette) AP

At this rate, this generation of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be best known for its remarkable collapses. After going from 28-19-6 to 35-37-10 in 2011-12 and their late collapse in Game 7 of the first round in the 2013 playoffs, Toronto is once again faltering with seven straight regulation time losses in March.

The Maple Leafs have just 80 points in 75 games following their latest 4-2 setback against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. They are technically part of a four-way tie with Columbus, Detroit, and Washington for the two Wild Card spots, but Toronto has played in two more contests than any of them.

The Maple Leafs don’t have time to dwell on that though as they’re scheduled to play against the Red Wings tonight.

“A lot of things are going against us, so we just have to take it for what it is and regroup,” Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said in his postgame interview. On tonight’s contest he added, “It’s the biggest game of the year.”

At this point, the question of why Carlyle believes that his team can salvage the season was brought up.

“They’ve proven to us before that they can play the game at a high level,” he said simply, before talking about the need to cut down on turnovers and win more one-on-one battles.

There was a time before the two teams found themselves in separate conferences, that the Maple Leafs and Red Wings were considered fierce rivals. Now that they have been reunited thanks to the realignment, it seems appropriate that both teams’ fates depend so significantly on tonight’s match.

  1. realemman - Mar 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    Make the playoffs or not, there has to be significant changes to this team in the off-season. Both roster-wise and management -wise.

  2. crazemastercraze - Mar 29, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Good thing they signed Clarkson to that massive deal! Working out awesomely for them so far!

  3. lionstigersandwingsohmy - Mar 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Will be interesting to see which team puts an end to the losing streak. I have to believe that the leafs are done if they lose this one.

  4. 13datsyuk13 - Mar 29, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Go Wings!

  5. LampyB - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Who gives a crap about clarkson its not that big of a deal. Think about phaneuf and how awful he is with $7M+ a year. Torontos issue is D and backchecking, you’d think they would have a captain that actually helps with this problem. Instead he’s often the cause.

  6. LampyB - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Ps. Phaneuf also just looks like a giant bonehead.

    • redwings1977 - Mar 29, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      Yeah, but his wife is smoking hot so he’s got that going for him.

  7. imgoingtowichita - Mar 29, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Phaneuf is a terrific choice to continue the hard-earned futility in which the prior generation of Leafs established. And to think, non-leaf fans can revel in the dismay for (at least 7) years to come. He is not a leader and his stunt earlier in the week clearly displayed as much.

    • beergold - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:05 PM

      The Leaf ownership is ultimately responsibly for this ongoing display of barely NHL quality on ice product! Why don’t Leaf fans call them out?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:21 PM

        Oh we do. But we like the team too much to withdraw our support. The only way to send a message to management is to stop paying for the product, but our fandom trumps how much we despise the ownership – and believe me, most people in Toronto absolutely loath MLSE.

        It certainly is a top-down problem. You can even see it in the incompetent management and contempt for customers at the sports bar they run across from the rink. The problem is that while I and others have personally boycotted that place, we’re replaced by a line of ten people willing to take our spot lining MLSE pockets…..and that’s just a microcosm of the whole problem. What do you do in a situation like that?

      • beergold - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:41 PM

        Sucks man…being a Leaf fan is a real test these days but they suck soooooooo bad year after year and no one seems to give a po-op…most of all ownership!

  8. stcrowe - Mar 29, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    On the same night that this disappointing team slid further towards missing the playoffs, their corporate sibling, the Toronto Raptors, who nobody expected to contend just a few months ago, nailed a playoff spot. Time to find a visionary GM like the Raptors did, instead of keeping Burke’s protege.

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