Post-season hopes high for Canadian NHL teams

Nine long years. That’s how much time has passed since as many as five Canadian-based teams made the Stanley Cup playoffs. If the season ended now, there would be five in the post-season, including Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto in the Eastern Conference and Vancouver in the west.

Nine long years.

That’s how much time has passed since as many as five Canadian-based teams made the Stanley Cup playoffs.

If the season ended now, there would be five in the post-season, including Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto in the Eastern Conference and Vancouver in the west.

Only Edmonton and Calgary would be left out, although heading into Monday’s games the Oilers were just two points behind eighth-place San Jose in the West and four points out of first place in the Northwest Division. The Flames were another two points back.

“It’s great to see,” Montreal defenceman Josh Gorges said. “Canada’s been longing for a team to win a Cup and when you have more teams in the playoffs, obviously the odds are a lot greater.”

However, it is not like Gorges or any other player is rooting for fellow Canadian teams to make it. They’re only concerned about getting their own teams over the hump.

“It’s exciting, but that’s about it,” added Gorges. “I’m worried about us. I don’t care whether the other teams make it or not, to be honest.”

His teammates said much the same, but that mindset could change if they get into the amped-up atmosphere and media coverage of a playoff series between two Canadian teams.

It hasn’t happened since five clubs made it in 2004.

That year, the Flames downed the Canucks in the first round en route to the Stanley Cup final, where they lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The same year, the Maple Leafs beat the Senators in the first round before bowing out to Philadelphia in a conference semifinal. It was the fourth time in a five-year span Toronto downed Ottawa in the post-season.

Montreal also made it in 2004 and beat Boston in the first round before losing to Tampa Bay.

The Canadiens, the last Canadian team to win a Stanley Cup in 1993, are battling for first place in the conference with a 19-5-4 record heading into a game Tuesday night against Buffalo.

With 20 games left to play, only a major collapse would keep them out of the post-season.

It’s dicier for the other Eastern Conference clubs.

The Jets (15-12-2) are battling Carolina for first place in the Southeast Division. If they hold on, it will give them third spot in the conference and put the franchise, formerly the Atlanta Thrashers, into the post-season for only the second time in its 13-year history.

An exhausted Winnipeg ended a three-game winning run with a 4-1 loss in Ottawa on Sunday that was their fifth game in eight days, but start a four-game homestand Tuesday night against Boston.

The Senators (15-8-6), already without star forward Jason Spezza, appeared to have their hopes dashed when Norris Trophy defenceman Erik Karlsson’s season ended with a sliced Achilles tendon on Feb. 13. When goalie Craig Anderson went down with a sprained ankle on Feb. 21, they looked dead line the water.

But goalies Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop stepped up, as did defenceman Sergei Gonchar, who has a seven-game point streak, and flashy winger Jakob Silfverberg. Ottawa has maintained a 10-1-3 home record and is 2-0-2 in its last four to move into fifth place.

The Leafs (15-12-2) got off to a hot start despite the loss of top line winger Joffrey Lupul three games into the season, but have tailed off alarmingly in the last two weeks. They are 0-3-2 in their last five, although Lupul has returned.

Toronto has not made the playoffs in seven years since the 2004-05 lockout.

The Canucks (13-8-6) are coming off consecutive seasons of finishing first overall in the 30-team league but they are in a battle with Minnesota just to win the Northwest Division this season.

They were 3-3-2 in March heading into a showdown with the Wild on Monday night.

It has been three years for Calgary and six for Edmonton since they last played in the post-season.

Just Posted

Red Deer seeking further public input on transit network improvements

Proposed new routes, improved frequency, connectivity and accessibility are all part of… Continue reading

14 year old pedestrian injured in motor vehicle collision in Red Deer

A young pedestrian was injured during a motor vehicle collision Monday evening… Continue reading

Edmonton trial hears woman was repeatedly stabbed, her organs removed

GRAPHIC WARNING: This story contains details that may disturb some readers. EDMONTON… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

Liberals granting more leeway to would-be Venezuelan immigrants, refugees

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are easing immigration and refugee rules for… Continue reading

Transat continues to back Air Canada bid following comments by Peladeau

MONTREAL — Transat A.T. Inc. repeated its recommendation that shareholders support a… Continue reading

Manitoba Liberal candidate says he was attacked in apartment building

WINNIPEG — A candidate in the upcoming Manitoba provincial election says he… Continue reading

Greenland leader again rejects Trump buying idea

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Greenland has again stolen the limelight when its premier… Continue reading

Kenney says Legault has shaky grasp of history when it comes to equalization

QUEBEC — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shot back at his Quebec counterpart… Continue reading

Judge acquits Manitoba Mountie of manslaughter but not driving charge

THOMPSON, Man. — A judge says he believes that a northern Manitoba… Continue reading

U.S. secretary of state to meet with Trudeau, Freeland ahead of G7 summit

OTTAWA — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Canada later… Continue reading

Most Read