Remember (the latest instance) when the sky was falling for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
In late October, the Maple Leafs were 2-4-1, mired in a four-game losing streak. In losses to the behemoth Hurricanes and beat-up Penguins, the Maple Leafs were outscored 11-2. Fans who pledged to only care about the playoffs suddenly got quite worried about the regular season.
Rangers trade targets: Eight forwards who could fill their middle-six need, from Calle Jarnkrok to Phil Kessel
After a few hot weeks, the Maple Leafs backed up requests for fans to stay calm. Now those fans can go back to worrying about the playoffs, because the Maple Leafs’ regular season’s back on track.
By squeezing past the Rangers, the Maple Leafs pushed their winning streak to five games. Over their past 11 games, they’ve only lost once (10-1-0). The Maple Leafs enter the weekend with a 12-5-1 record, tentatively ranked second in the top-heavy Atlantic Division.
So, which forces are driving Toronto’s hot streak? What could continue, and where are the red flags?
And, most importantly, why might the Maple Leafs break through in the playoffs — and what could once again hold them back?