Leafs down to last days?

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Despite finally getting a bit of help last night from the Florida Panthers, there is an outside chance the Leafs can be eliminated as early as tomorrow night if they fall at home to the same team.

Toronto would be out if the Montreal Canadiens beat the Ottawa Senators tonight and the Tampa Bay Lightning prevails over the Atlanta Thrashers tomorrow, and the Leafs lose (all in regulation). That would put the seventh and eighth seeds in the conference out of range of the Leafs' maximum 90 points. But anything less than two points by the Habs tonight keeps the Leafs alive until at least Wednesday.

The Leafs go to bed every night dreaming that a multi-team collision that wipes out at least one team from the field, including the Thrashers, who are a point up on them. The Panthers' 6-3 win over Tampa yesterday was a good start.

"We've done well the past few games (5-0-2), but it's troubling we haven't made up any ground," winger Jeff O'Neill said after Saturday's 5-2 win in Philadelphia. "But the only thing we can do every night is bust our rear ends and try and get wins. That's what we've been doing."

Toronto deserves credit for its refusal to give up, but still must win all five remaining games against Florida, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins to have any kind of chance.

"It still looks like a long shot, but it has been a lot of fun," Kyle Wellwood said. "It really feels like we're a (close) group now."

BADGER IN BLUE?

At least one member of the Leafs' extended family will go out a champion this year -- and could be officially joining the fold soon.

Junior forward Robbie Earl, picked 187th overall in 2004, was a member of the NCAA Frozen Four champion University of Wisconsin Badgers, who edged Boston College 2-1 in Saturday's final in Milwaukee. The 5-foot-10 Earl scored the game's opening goal.

With the season over, Leafs general manager John Ferguson can continue contract talks with the Chicago native.

"He has a decision on his future to make very soon," Ferguson said, adding that he has investigated several undrafted NCAA players who have graduated the past few weeks.


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