|Leafs goalie, James Reimer|
After coming off back-to-back overtime losses, the Leafs sit idle through the trade deadline and resume play on Wednesday, when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins with the hope of avenging Saturday’s loss. The next day, they will travel to Philadelphia, where they will face Kris Versteeg and the Flyers in a game that will surely not disappoint fans of fast paced and chippy hockey.
The week ahead is a critical one for the Leafs. After losing to the Thrashers, they are now tied with them for 10th in the east, with both the Sabres and Hurricanes standing between them and the final playoff berth. The race is clearly on, and the Leafs face three opponents this week that hold better season records. How they will fare this week will depend on a few factors: namely the health of James Reimer as well as what Burke does or does not do before the NHL trade deadline passes at close of business tomorrow.
James Reimer was injured during the Leafs’ game versus the Thrashers, after Kane’s knee made contact with his head. With Reimer being a major driving force during Toronto’s recent resurgence, one could legitimately question if the Leafs can continue their rally over the next week. Giguere, who filled in after Reimer left the ice, did an alright job, but his lack of consistency over the course of his time as a Leaf, as well as the fact he is injury prone, should make Leaf fans uneasy about the goaltending situation in Toronto.
Furthermore, Brian Burke has some critical personnel decisions to make before the trade deadline expires. His decisions will set the tone for the rest of the season. If he is unable to lock-up MacArthur to a contract extension, there is a large possibility that he may be moved, as the appetite for MacArthur’s hard hustle and newly found goal scoring touch has grown amongst GMs around the league. If Burke moves this critical chip, the Leafs will lose a lot of punch to an already shaky offense. With both Reimer and MacArthur potentially gone, the Leafs’ push for the playoffs would lose a lot of steam and perhaps put them out of contention. A lot will also depend on what the Sabres, Thrashers and Hurricanes do tomorrow, as decisions by their respective GMs to bolster their rosters for a playoff run could further reduce the chances of the Leafs qualifying for the post season.
It will be an interesting week in Leaf land, as games against tough opponents and personnel changes will show us what these young buds are really made of.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.