Toronto Maple Leafs: How injuries will impact playoff challenge

Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in free fall and desperately need help, but where will they receive a boost to get their playoff challenge back on track?

It’s fair to say the Toronto Maple Leafs have been extremely inconsistent during the last two months. Over their last 22 games they have a record of 10-9-3, resulting in just 23 out of a possible 44 points.

However, the alarm bells are really beginning to ring for Leafs fans now, after a disastrous West Coast road trip. To only come away with one point against the three teams at the bottom of the Western Conference is justified cause for concern.

This concern was only made worse by Auston Matthews‘ confession following the road trip out West. As reported by Rick Zamperin of Global News, Matthews said:

"“I think we’re kind of, you know, one foot in the door, one foot out as far as the way we want to play. And I think we just all need to be 100 percent in.”"

Certainly, this is a startling admission. If the team isn’t all-in at this stage of the season and knowing full well what’s at stake, when will they ever be?

Objectively speaking, the Leafs are still in a good position to make the playoffs despite their recent form. They hold a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers, the only realistic challenger for third place in the Atlantic Division, entering Monday night’s slate of games, and the final regular-season contest between the two teams will take place at the Scotiabank Arena.

However, this doesn’t mean the Leafs couldn’t use some extra help to secure a precious playoff spot. The question is, what?

We know this team can score. That much is evident by having scored the third-most goals in the NHL entering Monday night’s action.

Where the Buds really need to toughen up is defensively, having allowed the fourth-most goals in the league at the time of writing. While it wouldn’t take much to improve a poor situation help is on the way, at least theoretically.