Well the second half of the NHL season begins and for the first time in years the Maple Leafs are sitting in a playoff spot being chased by 5 or 6 pretenders. They are 2 points ahead of the 9th place team instead of being 6 points out of 8th. In addition they are riding a 3-game winning streak on the back of a hockey goalie. The different sports portals are also optimistic with an average increase in ranking of 6 over last week. The only pessimist is CBS Sport which is predicting a second half collapse as Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul come down to Earth and the defense comes unglued. I'm willing to bet the writer hasn't even seen a Leafs game this season.
ESPN - 13th (+9)
The Leafs have won three in a row, including a nice win at home Saturday against Detroit. Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul are second and fourth, respectively, in league scoring.
TSN - 13th (+5)
After stumbling through December, the Maple Leafs opened January by outscoring opponents 15-6 in three straight wins, all with Jonas Gustavsson (2.01 GAA, .932 SV% in those three games) between the pipes.
Sportsnet - 14th (+7)
Heck of a week to be a Leafs fan. The Buds followed up their dominance of Tampa Bay (7-3) and Winnipeg (4-0) by holding on for a 4-3 prime-time victory over the visiting Red Wings on Saturday. Who cares that Phil Kessel wasn’t voted into the All-Star Game? Toronto has returned to the top eight.
Sports Illustrated - 14th (+8)
Though his nickmame "The Monster" remains unwarranted at the NHL level, Jonas Gustavsson has won his last three starts and is finally starting to play consistently, and that is terrific news indeed for coach Ron Wilson. James Reimer, last year's rookie phenom, just hasn't cut it this season, so quality play from Gustavsson is a must. Phil Kessel is heating up again too: a goal in each of his last four games.
The Hockey News - 16th (+4)
Win over Wings Saturday another indication Leafs will be in playoff hunt right down to the wire
CBS Sports - 17th (+3)
Three straight wins and points in seven of their past 10 has Toronto back into the playoff picture. But for how long?