Five Canadian teams, Blackhawks dynasty among stories to watch in NHL playoffs

Canadian teams among NHL stories to watch

The NHL playoffs kick off Wednesday. Here are some storylines to watch:

 

OH CANADA!

After being shut out of the playoffs in 2016, five Canadian teams reached the post-season â€” Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. That matches the five who made it in 2015 (Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver and Winnipeg). You need to go back to 2004 for the previous time there were that many in the playoffs.

 

CANADA’S CUP

The last Canadian team to win it all was Montreal in 1993. Five have reached the final since then, with Vancouver losing in 1994 and 2011, Calgary in 2004, Edmonton in 2006 and Ottawa in 2007. Between 1984 and 1993, Canadian clubs won eight of 10 Cups. The Canadiens are perhaps the best hope this year after placing first in the Atlantic Division. 

 

SLICK OILERS

Five-time Stanley Cup champion Edmonton is in the post-season for the first time since 2006, ending a league-high 11-year drought. It will be a first playoff experience for NHL scoring leader and 100-point man Connor McDavid as well as teammates like Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Also, Oilers coach Todd McLellan faces his old team San Jose in the first round.

 

TRADE WARS

Now we’ll start to see who got the best of last summer’s blockbuster trade of star defencemen between Montreal and Nashville when it counts. Shea Weber will anchor the Canadiens defence against the Rangers in what should be a tight series, while P.K. Subban tries to get the Predators over the hump against powerhouse Chicago.

 

NO LETANG

The defending champion Pittsburg Penguins are without top defenceman Kris Letang, who is gone for the season with the neck injury. The slick rearguard played more than 28 minutes per game in last year’s Cup run, but the Pens went 13-7-3 without him down the stretch. Columbus has never won a playoff series, but posted franchise highs of 50 wins and 108 points this season.

 

CHICAGO DYNASTY

The Blackhawks have won three Cups in the last seven years and, after finishing first in the Western Conference, are among the favourites to take it again. The core of the team â€” goalie Corey Crawford, defencemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa (as well as coach Joel Quenneville) â€” have a shot at wining a fourth Cup together. 

 

ANDERSON FACTOR

Perhaps the most compelling story of the season saw Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson take a leave from the team to be with his wife Nicholle as she underwent cancer treatments. He went 13-5-3 after returning to the team on Feb. 11 and will have many cheering for him in the first round against the Bruins. Job 1 will be stopping ornery 39-goal scorer Brad Marchant, who returns from a two-game suspension.

 

YOUNG BLOOD

Few expected Toronto to make the playoffs in Year 2 of a rebuilding program, but rookies Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander were that good this season. It no doubt helped to have Canadian Olympic team and former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock running the bench. The task is all-but-impossible against first-overall Washington, but the Capitals have gone flat in the post-season before.  

 

FIRE EXTINGUISHED

To reach the second round of the playoffs, Calgary will need to win at least once in Anaheim, which they have not done in 25 games over the last 11 seasons.

 

 

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Morning Start: There is a Hot Pink Lake in Australia

Your morning start for Friday, Sept. 25, 2020

PHOTOS: Windstorm blows through Kelowna

Photos from readers in the Central Okanagan following Wednesday night’s storm

Halloween festivities cancelled at Kelowna’s Orchard Park Shopping Centre

Physical distancing guidelines would not be attainable while holding the annual trick-or-treat event

Strong weekend wind expected in Okanagan

Wind gusts of up to 60 km/hr expected

‘Schools are healthy’: IH medical health officer

Children have a low risk of catching and spreading COVID-19

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrante

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kamloops Mounties happened upon alleged gang-related robbery, kidnapping

Michael Mathieson is charged with armed robbery, unlawful confinement and kidnapping

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Interior Health reports five new COVID-19 cases

Across the region, 34 cases are active

Most Read