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Toronto Maple Leafs new interim head coach Peter Horachek, back centre, talks with Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (81) as he hangs his head while playing against the Washington Capitals during second period NHL hockey action in Toronto on January 7, 2015.

Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS

It took a 22-day stretch with only two wins, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are no longer in a playoff spot.

After their 6-2 loss to Washington and the Bruins 3-2 win in overtime against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Leafs awoke Thursday in ninth in the East with 45 points in the first 41 games of the season.

That 90-point pace may be better than last season's 84, but it won't be enough to get in come season's end. With teams like the Capitals, Rangers and Blue Jackets – who Toronto face at the ACC on Friday – all currently red hot, the cut-off is expected to be in about the 94-point range come April.

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To get there, the Leafs will have to go 24-16-1, 23-15-3 or some other such similar variation the rest of the way.

That's a tall task given the talent and the turmoil around the team, even if new coach Peter Horachek is a miracle worker.

So, you may wonder after this 2-8-0 slide if they can sink far enough the other way to get close to a good lottery position?

Probably not. It would take an incredible collapse to get there.

The 26th place team (New Jersey) is currently on pace for only 72 points, which would mean the Leafs would have to go 13-27-1 to nosedive into that range the rest of the way.

That's Oilers territory, and it strains credulity Toronto can be that poor given it has solid goaltending and remains the second highest scoring team in the league.

Probability website sportsclubstats.com gives the Leafs the greatest chance of finishing between 15th and 22nd, with a roughly 70 per cent likelihood of landing somewhere in there.

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Their odds would be slightly worse than that if one accounts for analytics like score-adjusted Corsi or Fenwick, which (a) the Leafs rate terribly in and (b) tend to be more predictive of future success.

Assuming Horachek doesn't have a considerable impact on possession.

If you look purely at projected records right now, the Leafs are on pace to finish 19th in the NHL and 10th in the East, better than only Columbus, Ottawa, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Buffalo and Carolina.

And the Jackets will be right on their doorstep if they win Friday.

That leaves the Leafs trapped in that mushy mediocrity again, in a bad conference, and it's going to take a huge push in one direction or the other to get out of it.

It's not a good look.

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