The Leafs haven't had much to celebrate over their past five games, but defenceman Cody Franson (right) says they just have to focus on the moment and "keep agame-by-game mentality." (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - At some point, there will be a time to panic for the Maple Leafs and how the team responds to that condition ultimately will determine whether a franchise-record playoff drought is to be extended by another year.
So has the time arrived?
Not yet, but it’s creeping into view.
With a fifth consecutive loss on Saturday night — a 5-4 shootout affair to the Winnipeg Jets that felt like four games crammed into one — the Leafs now have the second-longest losing streak in the league. As the losses have piled up, the wiggle room Randy Carlyle’s team has had between the middle spots of the Eastern Conference to the ninth and 10th seeds has diminished.
And because of that, with 19 games remaining, the race may be heating up but Leafs players are doing their best not to be bothered by it.
“The race has been on for us since the start,” Leafs defenceman Cody Franson told the Toronto Sun after most of the Leafs dressing room had cleared out Saturday night.