Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Flames looking to snuff out Leafs’ faint playoff hopes

Calgary Flames centre Joe Colborne celebrates his goal with teammates against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome.


The Toronto Maple Leafs playoff chances are just 4.6 per cent right now, as they need to basically win out (or go 5-0-1) to have a reasonable shot at the postseason.

But the Calgary Flames would like nothing more than to drop those numbers to almost nothing.

That's what on the line Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre, with the plucky Flames playing for pride and the downtrodden Leafs battling for their playoff lives.

Story continues below advertisement

While Toronto has lost eight games in regulation in a row, Calgary has been playing spoiler, going 9-7-0 in March and beating Anaheim, Dallas, San Jose and the New York Rangers in the process.

Former Leafs prospect Joe Colborne said the Flames coaching staff has put the pressure on the young team to approach this stretch as their postseason, breaking down the games into seven game series and pushing them to treat the remainder of their season as must-win games.

With only seven games left, Calgary is almost definitely going to finish in the bottom five, but little was expected of them entering the year.

"I'm not going to say anything inflammatory before the game," said Colborne, who is third on the Flames in scoring during that stretch with 11 points in 16 games. "But any guy who comes back and plays his past team wants to have a good game. We've got a guy playing his first NHL game tonight (Bryce Van Brabant) and a lot of guys with family in the stands so it'll be a special game regardless.

"We've been pretending we're in series as we go. The more teams that we can beat and make it harder for them the better. That's the only way we're going to get as close as possible to the playoff atmosphere."

Another former Leaf, Matt Stajan, said he could sympathize with what Toronto is going through, but that they shouldn't expect any mercy from a team 11 points below them in the standings.

"They're going to be a hungry team tonight and they're probably trying everything they can to get out of it. We know the situation they're in," Stajan said. "We want to come in and knock them down again."

Story continues below advertisement

The best hope for the Leafs at this point is that they win a lot of their games and the two teams they're fighting with, Columbus and Washington, go into a funk to end the year. gives Toronto only a 77 per cent chance of making the postseason if they run the table and win six straight, and those odds drop to just 29 per cent if they finish the year 5-1-0.

Even finishing with 89 points gives the Leafs a small chance of making it with some help (roughly 11 per cent).

Adding to the game's intrigue is the fact that former Leafs GM Brian Burke, now the president of hockey operations for the Flames, will be in the visitors executive box for the first time since being let go at the start of the 2012-13 season.

And if anyone knows what Toronto's going through right now, it's Burke.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨