With nothing left to play for but pride (and slightly less hammering by the media, if that's possible), the Toronto Maple Leafs come into South Florida tonight as downtrodden as ever after having what could be described as an epic crash out of the playoff race. About a month ago, Toronto was sitting pretty with a record of 36-24-8, playing well enough that they were all but guaranteed a wild card spot in the East. They would then go on to lose 11 of their next 14 games, costing them a postseason berth of any kind, and causing the hockey world to either implode, or explode with laughter, depending on your love for all things Toronto.
Like the Panthers, the Leafs are likely looking at a bunch of changes this offseason, especially on the ice. Toronto clearly doesn't have as much work to do as Florida does, but it's obvious that the massive letdown that was this season will not go by unpunished. The Leafs aren't far off from being an annual playoff contender, but there will need to be some roster turnover to wash the stink off of this season's collapse. The Panthers, meanwhile, have stank for so long that no one notices the smell anymore. Regardless, there's likely going to be a few big changes on the ice for the Cats as well, but one thing's for sure: they aren't as close to being a contender yet as Toronto is.
Tune in tonight for what is likely going to be an amazing bout of apathy. The always-on LBC GameThread will be active and ready, and check out Pension Plan Puppets for a Canadian-flavored angst and despair that we're all too familiar with. Also of note: longtime AHL'er Drew MacIntyre will get the start for the Maple Leafs tonight, his first in the NHL. Game 81 of 82, you may proceed.