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Canadian Teams and the Playoffs; The Relationship that Hasn’t Worked Out Well Recently

Canadian teams haven't had a huge place in the playoffs over the last few years. The Stanley Cup hasn't come to a Canadian team since 1993. With five teams in the playoff race, is this the year it all changes for Canada? If basketball isn't your thing, we have March Madness going on in the NHL Playoff Race.



There have only been eight(!) Canadian playoff appearances since 2011. That’s out of 64 teams that made the playoffs. The Canucks and Canadiens make up six of those appearances. As we sit right now, with some help from the Hockey Gods, there is a very distinct possibility that up to five Canadian teams can make the big dance. Here’s a brief look at each team and their odds via Sports Club Stats:

The Guaranteed Teams: Montreal Canadiens 99.999%

MTL: Carey Price, among other strong players, have created a very tough Montreal team this season. Currently they’re battling for the President’s Trophy, and are an absolute lock for the playoffs. They shouldn’t have any trouble staying ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning (2004, never forget/never forgive) for the division tittle, and will most likely have home ice throughout the Eastern Playoffs.

The Rather Comfortable Teams: Vancouver Canucks 89.6%

VAN: The Vancouver Canucks have had a strong bounceback season following the debacle that was John Tortorella and Goaliegate over the last couple years. Ryan Miller was solid, and Eddie Lack has been strong during Miller’s injury. The Sedins have had strong years and the Ryan Kesler trade seems to have boosted the morale of the Canucks. They’ve managed to keep a 1-5 point gap between themselves and the Flames to stay in the playoffs. A Canucks-Flames playoff series would be so epic that I can’t even fathom it.

The In One Night, Out the Next Teams: Calgary Flames 78.9% and Winnipeg Jets 64.4%

CGY: Of course, now we have to get to our beloved Calgary Flames: the team that was spliced together as a result of three general managers with totally different game plans. The team that was supposed to be up (or down I suppose) there with the Buffalo Sabres for Connor McDavid.

Whatever it is, it has been working out here. Nobody could’ve predicted that Johnny Gaudreau would make such an impact in his rookie season. Nobody would’ve thought that Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie would make such strides as a defensive pairing. I think you get the message here.

This team has continued to defy expectations, and people should be scared to bet against them. The Flames have continued to battle even after losing their captain, and whether this season leads to playoffs or not, Bob Hartley and this Flames team have made tremendous strides. It'll be interesting to see what happens if this team gets in; they have that unexpected side to their game that could allow them to make some noise.

WPG: The new team buzz has worn off the Winnipeg Jets and now the fans want playoff hockey. Winnipeg has had their own struggles this year but they’ve remained relevant in a very tough Central Division. Ever since the Evander Kane saga ended the Jets have been making a strong push, and I have a hard time believing that any Canadian hockey fan wouldn’t be happy for the city of Winnipeg if the Jets make the playoffs. Just please don’t screw with the Flames playoff chances. Thanks.

The Just Outside Teams: Ottawa Senators 50.4%

OTT: The Hamburglar Andrew Hammond has simply been spectacular since being called from the AHL. The Senators are just a few points out all of a sudden, being right in Boston’s rear view mirror. This is another young, fun team to watch and here’s hoping they can take out the perennial playoff Boston Bruins.

The It’s Just Sad Teams: Edmonton Oilers 0% and Toronto Maple Leafs -15%

EDM-TOR: Okay, I watched the first period of the Edmonton-Toronto game last week, and all I want to say is that they're both just awful. Hopefully the Oilers can return to relevance next year, but goodness Toronto might be better off folding and then coming back in three years with an expansion draft.

So all those five aforementioned teams have legitimate chances for the playoffs, and it would be great for the game to have these Canadian cities buzzing for playoff hockey. How nice would it be to see the Kings, Bruins, Sharks, and Wild on the outside at seasons end? The Flames and Jets play each other in the last game of the season, so absolutely make sure you watch it as it could be a fantastic game. Here’s to hoping Canada regains its collective status as a playoff nation, and maybe, just maybe, the cup comes back in June. Oh Canada!

by Michael MacGillivray