Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/20/14
The Toronto Maple Leafs have not made the playoffs since 2004. Nearly nine years without meaningful hockey has to be taking its toll on one of the most passionate fan bases in the NHL. Fortunately for Toronto fans, the playoff drought has a good chance of ending this season. The Maple Leafs (14-9-0) enter Thursday night as the fifth seed in the East with 28 points. The Leafs are just two points back of division-leading Montreal and one back of the second-place Bruins. Toronto has gotten terrific production out of their No. 1 overall pick in 2009, Nazem Kadri. The 22-year old has 23 points in as many games and is a plus-12 on the season. Phil Kessel and newly acquired James Van Riemsdyk have also produced for Toronto, chipping in 17 points each. However, the big surprise for the Maple Leafs has been the success they have had by using two goaltenders. James Reimer and Ben Scrivens have split time this season. They are each giving up under 2.50 goals per game and have identical save percentages of .923. Even with the early success, it has to be extremely frustrating for the Leafs that they have been unable to beat the rival Bruins since March 2011. The Bruins have won the division three of the last four years and are the obvious obstacle for the Maple Leafs if they want the automatic playoff bid and home-ice advantage in the first round that comes with winning the division. With a favorable schedule including nine home games in March, the Leafs are in great position to be playing into May this year. Boston fans probably wouldn’t mind seeing Toronto make the playoffs either, so long as the Bruins can still win the division. Take Our Poll

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