Honest question: Is Grabovski actually crying here?

You didn’t need to be a mathematician to know that the Maple Leafs have been theoretically dead for weeks, but as of approximately 9:30 p.m. ET. on Tuesday night, they are now officially eliminated from playoff contention, thanks to another heartless, half-assed home loss, this one to the Hurricanes.

That makes it seven straight seasons without a playoff trip for a franchise that had never gone more than two straight playoff-less seasons in its first 89 years of existence. There have been many disappointing efforts, games and all around stinkers during this putrid run of futility, but this season really takes the cake. The Buds looked like a legitimate playoff team through four months of the season, and were in a battle for positioning, not just survival, before their nosedive began.

Now we’re looking at a team that has lost 19 of its last 24 games, is 5-16-3 during that stretch, and has gone from in the hunt for sixth place to 14th place in a matter of six or seven weeks.

If there’s one bit of good to come out of all this, and if it’s true that it’s always darkest before the dawn, then fellow Leafs Nation members should be comforted by the fact that while the Leafs officially have a zero per cent chance of making the playoffs this year, if the season ended today, they’d have an 8.1 % chance of winning the Draft Lottery.

Pfft, and they say progress is a slow process.

On to the links:

  • Our own Chris Lund, a fellow Leafs fan (also known as a sports masochist), piles it on by running through some of the things that happened in the world the last time the Leafs made the playoffs. (Backhand Shelf)
  • Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and the Capitals choking (Cape Gazette). Zing! But come on, this lead is massively over reaching. I mean with the daily advancements of modern medicine and technology, the writer should know that at this point, the Leafs missing the playoffs is far more certain than death.
  • With their crushing loss to the Sabres, the math isn’t exactly favouring the ninth-place Capitals (The Washington Times), but apparently, the Caps “still believe.” (The Washington Examiner).
  • The city of Vancouver plans to divert fans into community centres and neighbourhoods outside of the downtown core if the Canucks make another deep playoff run (Puck Daddy). Two things – what happens if the Canucks choke in the first or second round? And second, can anybody say “riot in the suburbs”?!
  • Horrible news for Canadiens fans embracing Tank Nation, as the Habs leaped into 28th place with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Panthers (Faceoff.com). Here’s a new wrinkle in the era of three-point games. You’ve embraced a tank, are cheering for your team to lose, which they do, but they ultimately fail you by moving up in the standings anyway with a single point, therefore damaging their lottery hopes. This has to be rock bottom for Canada’s two Original Six teams, right?
  • What has more shootouts, a classic Western, or a Panthers season? (Litter Box Cats) I don’t know what’s more surprising, that the Panthers are actually closing in on their first post-lockout playoff berth, or that the franchise has enough fans to support a team blog. Either way, at least retired snow birds from Toronto will have a team to root for this Spring.
  • The Blues shutout the Predators on Tuesday for the team’s 15th shutout of the season, Brian Elliot’s third consecutive shutout and his ninth shutout overall in just 34 starts. (stltoday.com) How’s this for a goaltending duo – only seven goalies have recorded six shutouts or more this season, and two of them play for the Blues.
  • Speaking of goalies, which teams’ goaltending rotations are playoff-ready? (The Sporting News) To no one’s surprise, the Blues get the last mention and the most ringing endorsement from The Sporting News.
  • Zdeno Chara has now played 1,000 NHL games. (Backhand Shelf). In other words, Chara has played one game for every inch of his actual height.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, members of the Maple Leafs will be glad to know that Toronto is expected to continue with unseasonably warm weather over the next couple of weeks, which should allow for some beautiful golfing conditions in the GTA. (The Weather Network)