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article imageAnother Maple Leafs loss, playoffs officially look like longshot

By Marcus Hondro     Feb 26, 2012 in Sports
This Maple Leafs season with periods of strong play, and results, throughout, has for their fans now taken a turn for the...frightening. If Thursday's 2-1 loss to the slumping San Jose Sharks was worrisome then more so is Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Caps.
It is officially time to panic.
The Leafs loss to Washington, again at home, was achieved early as James Reimer let in two in the first 3:46 of the game, both on shots Leaf''s coach Ron Wilson said post-game that his slumping goalie should have stopped. He had other moments of fine play but by the time the third rolled around Toronto was down 4-0 and the result was almost assured.
Capitals pass Maple Leafs
The Capitals, now in 9th, two points up on Toronto and a point behind eighth place Winnipeg, started the scoring off at the 32 second mark when Marcus Johansson managed a wrap-around that Reimer reacted way late on. Three minutes later Alexander Semin stole the puck from Luke Schenn near the face-off circle and wired a low shot past a collapsing Reimer.
After Jeff Halpern from in close and Keith Aucoin, on a set-up from Alexander Ovechkin, scored in the second, Toronto countered in the third with Colby Armstrong's first of the year and, with under 5 to go, Tim Connolly's 10th. Washington outshot Toronto,, 36-30 and Michael Neurvirth was easily the better goalie on the night and Washington the better team, which fans at the Air Canada Centre voiced their disapproval of throughout the game.
Maple Leafs: Are playoffs fading?
It was Toronto's fourth straight loss at home and a fourth straight loss overall. Doubtless some fans are now thinking this season is heading in the same direction as the last seven. Meanwhile, according to captain Dion Phaneuf, Leaf players are being affected by trade rumors.
"It is a tough time of year for guys playing in a big market like this and hearing stuff day in and day out,” Phaneuf said. “But it’s a part of the business and we’ve all been through it. We’re going to come back with the right attitude and we’ve got to win hockey games. That’s the bottom line."
Wilson also put it out there that rumors may have rattled his players. He pointed out that rumors now go on for "like a month" instead of only a few days and he's happy Monday's trading deadline is fast approaching. “Some things are bothering them. That will all clear up in 36 hours,” he said. "Then I won’t have to worry about it. The rumours will be gone.”
Then the only thing he'll have to worry about is whether he can keep his job if the Leafs don't make the playoffs.
More about Brian Burke, ron wilson, Toronto Maple Leafs, Stanley cup playoffs
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