Sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference with 48 points entering Wednesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs have put themselves in a favorable position to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.
And with each game growing more and more important as the season winds down, playoff experience is proving important for a team that doesn't have a lot of it.
One of the League's youngest teams, Toronto has 15 players on its roster who have never played in an NHL playoff game. And for the two players who have seen postseason action in the past two years -- James van Riemsdyk and Cody Franson -- there's an implicit understanding of how important Wednesday's game will be against the Rangers, who sit eighth in the East with 42 points.
"[Games] always get tight going towards the end of the season. Teams are trying to make a push or hold a spot. We're trying to put ourselves in a good position," said Franson, who saw playoff action in 2011 with the Nashville Predators. "You're going to see a lot of one-goal games coming down the stretch. That's just the way it's going to be. We're prepared for that."