Lets be honest here. Hope for the Toronto Maple Leafs 2008 season is burning about as bright as a pilot light during a power outage. Bandwagoners have lost interest. Hardcore fans have given up. Christ, even rival fans have given up telling Leaf Nation to give up. Turn the Leafs over. They're done. Right?
But hold on.
Fans don't run this team. Neither do the media. Even us bloggers, self-proclaimed experts on everything from rosters to Ray Emery's drug habits, hold the leverage of a popsicle stick when it comes to what happens on the ice. The players are alone with their hands on the wheel in this one. The rest of us, mere observers.
So where the hell are they taking this broken down golf cart anyway?
The players keep saying they haven't given up. You want to think it's all bravado and optics, but they seem sincere enough. They're focused on making the playoffs. Why? Maybe because the distance between them and 8th place is an anorexic seven points. Even more scary, they're only eight points out of 7th place but with two games in hand. I suck at math, but even I can see how you could wrangle a little hope out of that equation.
Still, either Mats and co. are disillusioned as all hell, or maybe they're the only calm left in this whole ugly storm? It's hard to be sure.
What is for certain? This week will decide everything. Lose 2 of 3, and you can bet your Ikea dresser that Sundin will be a Vancouver Canuck or San Jose Shark or Detroit Red Wing inside two weeks. But win all three games, and maybe the hand that holds the plug will not be so quick to pull it? Hey, crazier things have happened. Even in Toronto, from time to time.
Toronto @ Buffalo, 7:30.