Do we want the Leafs in the post season or not? The Godfather wrote a year ago:
I'll just come right out and admit it: I'm cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make the playoffs.
Having Leaf Nation simply fade out of the picture in a relatively quiet and painless fashion will not do the Battle of Ontario justice. It would be more appropriate to see them teased into a sincere belief that yet another upset is possible, to gradually sell themselves on the possibility that this could be their year and to piece their shattered confidence back together in the remaining 13 games -- only to be abruptly hauled back down to the cold ice with a crunching thud. As the starry haze wears off and vision is restored, their first sight will be that of Gary Bettman making an important center ice presentation to Captain Daniel Alfredsson. Truly an experience that will scar several generations of Torontonians and something Sens fans ought to throw their support behind.
Really, fretting about a few losses lately is so insignificant when Pit comes in for Game 1 of Round 1. The most important thing will be the health of the players. We don't want any aductor muscles (Hasek), lingering wrist/arm ailments (Chara), or whatever else limiting this team. We are much better built to beat Buffalo than we were last spring. Our goalie is better now, our team speed is better I'd argue, and we've conquered the Pizza line or bust dilemma. Who else in the East are we worried about? A Pit team with a shallow D and big questions in net? A one line Tampa team that we can isolate and also without a solid netminder? Unless Brodeur singlehandledly wins 4 games, is anyone really worried about Jersey?
But back on the issue at hand.
What are the chances we would actually play Toronto in the playoffs if they make it? If they squeak in at 8 they would play Buffalo. We wouldn't even play them in the 2nd round unless the top three seeds all lost. If they are 7th they would play Jersey and then would play us if the 8th team won and the 3rd won. Very unlikely we'd meet unless it was the conference final.
Would you want that to be the final stepping stone to a final appearance? Or would you rather the Leaf distraction end quietly like last year and watch summer come early for those in Toronto?