The Maple Leafs are in need of a run after a poor showing in California writes the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan. After an 0-2-1 record following their California trip, Koshan calls “frustration and disappointment” the co-passengers on the flight back to Toronto. The Leafs, who face the Red Wings on Tuesday, hardly sound downtrodden, despite sitting a point out of a playoff spot, with the New York Islanders having a game in hand. The Panthers, and Flyers are both nipping at the Leafs’ heels, only behind by a point, and three points respectively. Regardless, head coach Mike Babcock old his team that as it gets more competitive during a playoff chase, it’s important to “play right.”
In other Atlantic Division news:
- The Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports that the Red Wings still believe they have a chance at sneaking into the playoffs. Though a tall order, St. James writes that Justin Abdelkader, and Darren Helm have both played strong and the return of Gustay Nyquist could bolster a lineup missing Thomas Vanek, and Brendan Smith, who were both offensive threats traded at the deadline. St. James tweeted Friday that bench boss Jeff Blashill believes that Detroit can make the playoffs because of Henrik Zetterberg’s strong play. St. James explains that Blashill realizes the mountain the Red Wings have to climb in order for that to happen, but he believes that if anyone can will a team into the playoffs, it would be Detroit’s captain.
- Speaking of Vanek, he could be the tonic to Nick Bjugstad’s struggles writes The Miami Herald’s David Neal. Vanek was acquired at the trade deadline Thursday and will be counted on to provide timely for scoring as he did in Detroit. Bjugstad has mirrored his team’s struggles at home, and the hope is that Bjugstad’s game can be rejuvenated by Vanek. Jonathan Marchessault will flank Bjugstad on the wing with Vanek, and head coach Tom Rowe believes that the trio can account for some much needed scoring.