With the playoffs for all intents and purposes unattainable, the Toronto Maple Leafs have all of a sudden become a monster of a team. The Leafs rattled off another win against a team that should have handled them easily on Saturday night, as they completely dominated the slumping Buffalo Sabres 7-0.
Now to be fair, these Sabres are not the same team that was amazing all prior to the Olympic break, things have tended to go sideways for Buffalo since then as they continue to struggle and fall from the higher reaches of the NHL East to the middle of the pack and possibly beyond by the time the end of the season arrives in two weeks.
On Saturday it appeared that the Leafs should be the team heading for the playoffs not their neighbours across the lake. The Leafs were in control from the opening face off, with fast goals in the first ten minutes of play.
Buffalo couldn't answer the attack, nor put up much of a defence on this night as the Leafs came at them in wave after wave, seemingly scoring at will. The latest savior of the nets. J. S. Aubin collected his third straight win, only the third shut out all year for the blue and white.
The Leaf win moves then to within seven points of a playoff spot, not an unreachable task but one unlikely to be realized as they leave things a little late to begin playing inspired hockey. With long time rival Montreal continuing its winning ways, the Leafs effectively just keep spinning their tires hoping that eighth place Tampa Bay will somehow fall into a free fall and surrender them the eighth and final spot, that is providing Atlanta doesn't claim it first.
The Leafs and Sabres will renew acquaintances again on Monday night, expect Buffalo to have a different mindset planned for the outcome of the rematch.