Different week, same attitude. The Leafs, while hitting their stride as of late in the points column, still don’t really have a ton to fight for right now. Seemingly out of the race for the divisional crown and also hitting over 95% in just about every “will they make the playoffs?” projection out there, the sense of urgency isn’t totally apparent with the Leafs right now.
The Leafs appear to be a legitimate contender, but before placing a wager read a Sports Interaction review.
However, there’s still 26 games left to sock’em, rock’em, bop’em, or whatever else the hockey kids are saying these days.
So we asked our staff: What is worth fighting for right now for the Leafs?
The Leafs can play for Freddie Andersen’s no-longer-totally-unrealistic pursuit of the team’s first Vezina Trophy since 1965. Whether that means committing to shutting down dangerous scoring lines, keeping shots to the outside and screen-free, or just playing future Norris winner Travis Dermott 27 minutes a night, there are lots of ways they can try to repay the guy who’s bailed them out many times over the last 16 months. Although, as evidenced by Wednesday’s ridiculous performance against Nashville, he seems to be doing just fine on his own.
If I were Babcock, I would give the players a message along the lines of “Play for fun.” Isn’t that why you wanted to be a pro hockey player? Go out and beat your opponent because winning is awesome and fun. Maybe don’t block that shot, maybe don’t fight that guy, you don’t want to get hurt in a game that doesn’t really matter for your playoff chances. But go out and have fun with hockey because it is fun. (edited)
When you’re in grade 12, it’s very easy to get “senioritis”. You’re graduating, and most of the events happening in the present don’t really matter. However, the best teachers recognize this, and counteract the urge to be lazy with an insistence on developing positive study habits. That’s what the Leafs should be playing for the rest of the way. They’re in grade 12, guaranteed to graduate, and it’ll be easy for them to skip class every once in a while. But, Babcock’s a good teacher, and, come playoff time, the good work habits he’s drilled into his players will come in handy. Play guys on the PK who haven’t done so before. Let Leivo gain back his legs. Thankfully, they’ve already had their senior skip day last Saturday in Boston.
We need to play for form. Last season we kinda stuttered through the last 10 games and just got in the play offs. This year we need to make sure we secure our place and try to get to that 100 point mark. If we want to be contenders then we need to be a regular season juggernaut. So we have that to play for.
The Leafs should probably still be playing for pride, and to keep bad habits from creeping back in. The standings have been a country mile apart for a long time now, but ask anybody and I’m sure they’d rather take the Leafs of these past couple of weeks over the slow, chip and chase team they were icing beforehand. Don’t burn out down the stretch, but don’t be lazy. Fairly simple.