Jets, Leafs flying in opposite directions | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaJets, Leafs flying in opposite directions

Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013 | 11:58 PM

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Zach Bogosian, right, and the Winnipeg Jets are moving up the standings, while Nikolai Kulemin, left, and the Toronto Maple Leafs remain in a slump. (Chris Young/Canadian Press) Zach Bogosian, right, and the Winnipeg Jets are moving up the standings, while Nikolai Kulemin, left, and the Toronto Maple Leafs remain in a slump. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

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The way the Toronto Maple Leafs have started the second half, with a five-game losing streak (0-3-2) after a 5-4 shootout loss at home to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, there is plenty of uncertainty whether they will end their seven-season playoff drought.

With the way the Winnipeg Jets have soared up the standings in the past two weeks, there are currently four Canadian clubs that are among the top-six spots in the East.

But the way the Toronto Maple Leafs have started the second half, with a five-game losing streak (0-3-2) after a 5-4 shootout loss at home to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, there is plenty of uncertainty whether the playoff race will finish this way.

Even though Joffrey Lupul returned to the Toronto lineup after a 25-game absence because of a broken forearm, scored twice and provided a lift, the Maple Leafs continued to suffer lengthy in-game lapses to make their path to the post-season troublesome.

After Lupul scored on his first shot in two months to give the Maple Leafs an early 1-0 lead, Toronto suffered through a horrible 15 ½ minutes to open the second period to find themselves down 4-1. Nikolai Kulemin and Lupul gave the Maple Leafs life with goals late in the second period. Phil Kessel tied the affair in the third.

But for a team that pushed itself into a playoff position with a solid start based on strong positional defensive hockey, the Maple Leafs have done an about-face with so many mental mistakes in the neutral zone and their own end during this slump.

"We just seem to hit a spot in the game where we don't do anything right," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "We don't execute. We can't make a pass. We turn the puck over.

"It's a mindset that has to change in our group. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror."

It's been said before, but when the pressure of a season arrives, the Maple Leafs simply have not performed up to snuff since this playoff drought began after the 2004-05 lockout. When the pressure is off, they have been fine.


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Not sure four days off between games will be a good thing or a bad thing for the Maple Leafs, who are now at full health with the return of Lupul.

It could be good because they will have time to cure the ills in their game through practice. Or it could be a bad thing because they will have four days of questions about whether they can stop this second-half slide.

Toronto fortunate

Toronto has been fortunate that there haven't been more teams like the red-hot Jets, 10-3-1 in their last 14 games, around them in the standings. The New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes have been middling at best.

In fact, the Maple Leafs actually moved to sixth from seventh in the East standings because they gained a point in their 10-round shootout against the Jets, in which Mikhail Grabovski was left stapled to the bench by Carlyle. But Toronto can't ignore that John Tavares has been trying his best to push his New York Islanders so he can experience his first Stanley Cup playoffs.

The regular season has six weeks to play out, 18 days to the trade deadline. Here's a look at the schedules for the seven teams that currently are battling for the final five playoff spots in the Eastern Conference standings.

3. Winnipeg Jets (15-11-2--32 points)

20 games remaining (12 home, 8 road)

Home: Bos, Wsh, Wsh, TB, Car, Phi, Buf, Fla, TB, Car, NYI, Mtl.

Away: Ott, Car, Pit, NYR, NYI, Mtl, Buf, Wsh.

Back-to-back nights: 4

3 games in 4 nights: 6

Longest road trip left: 3 games (Apr. 1-4)

5. Ottawa Senators (14-8-6--34 points)

20 games remaining (11 home, 9 road)

Home: Wpg, Bos, TB, NJ, NYR, Tor, Car, Wsh, Tor, Car, Wsh, Tor, Pit, Phi.

Away: NYI, Bos, Buf, Fla, TB, Phi, NJ, Bos, Wsh.

Back-to-back nights: 3.

3 games in 4 nights: 3.

Longest road trip left: 7 games (Apr. 2-15).

6. Toronto Maple Leafs (15-12-2--32 points)

19 games remaining (10 home, 9 road)

Home: TB, Bos, Fla, Car, Phi, NYR, Mtl, NJ, NYI, Mtl. 

Away: Buf, Bos, Ott, NJ, NYR, Wsh, Ott, TB, Fla.

Back-to-back nights: 4.

3 games in 4 nights: 6.

Longest road trip left: 3 games (Apr. 20-25)

7. New Jersey Devils (13-10-6--32 points)

19 games remaining (9 home, 10 road)

Home: NYR, Fla, NYI, Tor, Bos, Ott, Fla, Mtl, Pit.

Away: Car, Ott, TB, Fla, Bos, Buf, Tor, Phi, NYR, NYR.

Back-to-back nights: 3 

3 games in 4 nights: 4.

Longest road trip left: 3 games (Mar. 25-30).

8. Carolina Hurricanes (15-11-1--31 points)

21 games remaining (11 home, 10 road)

Home: Fla, NJ, Wpg, Wsh, TB, NYR, Pgh, Bos, Phi, NYI, NYR.

Away: NYR, Tor, Wpg, Mtl, Bos, Wsh, Ott, Wpg, TB, Pgh.

Back-to-back nights: 4.

3 games in 4 nights: 7.

Longest road trip left: 3 games (Mar. 30-Apr. 1)

9. New York Islanders (13-12-3--29 points)

20 games remaining (9 home, 11 road)

Home: Ott, Mtl, Pit, Fla, Wpg, TB, Phi, NYR, Fla.

Away: Wsh, Phi, Pit, NJ, Wsh, Bos, Tor, Wpg, Car, Phi, Buf.

Back-to-back nights: 3.

3 games in 4 nights: 5.

Longest road trip left: 5 games (Apr. 18-26)

10. New York Rangers (13-12-2--28 points)

21 games remaining (9 home, 12 road)

Home: Car, Fla, Wsh, Wpg, Pit, Tor, Fla, NJ, NJ.

Away: NJ, Phi, Ott, Mtl, Pit, Car, Tor, NYI, Phi, Buf, Fla, Car.

Back-to-back nights: 2.

3 games in 4 nights: 3.

Longest road trip left: 3 (twice, Mar. 26-30, Apr. 5-8

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