Hockey is for everyone. That includes former two-time world heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe, who on Thursday tweeted there could be consequences for the Maple Leafs‘ head coach if they sustain any more losses.
— Riddick Bowe (@riddickbowe) March 27, 2014
But it was the Philadelphia Flyers who delivered what could be the knockout punch to the Leafs’ playoff chances, beating Toronto, 4-2, on Friday to extend their losing streak to seven.
The Maple Leafs entered Saturday’s games tied for the final wild-card spot in the the Eastern Conference but appear to have fallen apart. According to SportsClubStats, the Leafs’ chances at reaching the postseason sit at 19.8 percent, which is almost a quarter of the chance they had just two weeks ago after beating Los Angeles, 3-2, on March 14 (89 percent).
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Ignoring special teams and league-protecting situations, Toronto has been outshot 1,854-1,327 this season, giving them a minus-527 shot attempt differential. Only the last-place Buffalo Sabres are worse (minus-582). In fact, Toronto has been on the minus side of the ledger in most of its games.
Up until now the Leafs have been able to beat the odds and keep a playoff spot in their sights, but perhaps most troubling is the team doesn’t appear to see the urgency to reverse the trend. Toronto winger Phil Kessel went as far to say getting outshot night after night matters more to the media than the team.
Kessel on not getting a shot in the first five minutes: “You guys worry about that more than we do. We’ve done that before and won games.”
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) March 27, 2014
Los Angeles Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, who guided his team to a Stanley Cup in 2012, has a different view. “The game’s changed,” he told the Edmonton Journal. “They think there’s defending in today’s game. Nah, it’s how much you have the puck.”
It’s simple, really. When your team doesn’t have the puck, you lose games. When you lose games, you fall out of a playoff spot. When you fall out of a playoff spot, fans get angry. When fans get angry, a two-time heavyweight boxing champ threatens to punch your head coach between the eyes.
Toronto, don’t let your coach be punched between the eyes by a two-time heavyweight boxing champ.