It has become a dire time for anyone who roots for Canadian-based National Hockey League Teams. With just over a month left in the regular season it can be said with more than 90 percent certainty that none of the NHL’s seven Canadian entries will advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
That means 16 of the league’s 23 U.S. based entries will be playoff bound. Just last year five Canadian teams made the playoffs as the first round featured an Ottawa v. Montreal and a Vancouver v. Calgary series.
It gets better – in recent weeks the scoring leaders in the NHL, AHL (AAA-hockey), ECHL (AA), the Federal League, the Southern Professional Hockey League (not to be confused with the Southern Poverty Law Center, NCAA Division I mens hockey and NCAA Division I women’s hockey are all American-born. Canadian Seth Griffith has tied American Chris Borque for the AHL scoring lead.
But as far as an Canadian-team advancing to the Stanley Cup playoffs, the outlook gets grimmer each day.
(probabilities per hockey-reference.com)
Ottawa Senators (6.2 percent) – With 69 points in 66 games the Sens are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils. The Detroit Red Wings (75 points in 64 games) and Pittsburgh Penguins (74 points in 64 games) hold down the Wild Card spots with the Philadelphia Flyers (71 points in 64 games) close behind. Those three games with two games in hand will make it difficult for the Sens to overtake. Another possibility will be to overtake the Boston Bruins (79 points in 66 games) for third place in the division.
Montreal Canadiens (1.2 percent) – A trendy pre-season pick to go deep into the playoffs, the Habs have trended in the wrong direction ever since All-everything goaltender Carey Price went down. Montreal has lost its last four games and a slew of teams they will need to somehow leapfrog.
Toronto Maple Leafs (0 percent) – The Leafs continue their 50-year rebuilding project and traded high-salaried players in recent days to clear salary cap space in hopes of landing Steven Stamkos in free agency. They still sell out every game charging ridiculous ticket prices.
Winnipeg Jets (0.5 percent) – After last year’s playoff appearance, the Jets have reverted back to the Atlanta Thrashers in drag. With 59 points, the Jets stand 13 points behind the Minnesota Wild, who have been on a roll since they fired their coach. Even with two games in hand, it will be a tall order for the Manitobans.
Vancouver Canucks (2 percent) – It has been five years since the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins and known patriot goaltender Tim Thomas. With 62 points, the Canucks stand 10 points behind the Wild with two games in hand. Vancouver is also 14 points behind the third-place San Jose Sharks with the same amonut of games played.
Calgary Flames (0.1 percent) – The Flames stand four points behind the Canucks with one more game played. It should be a quiet spring on the Red Mile, to the delight of those in the neighborhood who hate post-game parties that go late into the night.
Edmonton Oilers (0 percent) – The Oilers sit at 57 points, but have played a league-high 67 games. The good news is the team showed respectability after years of selecting top overall draft picks and finally move into a new arena next year. Connor McDavid (34 points in 30 games) missed much of his rookie season but appears as good as advertised. They could be the 2018 Stanley Cup champions.