With the Jets and Flames each losing big games while their respective playoff chances hang in the balance, it’s time for fans in Calgary and Winnipeg to accept the fact that their seasons will likely come to an end on April 7, and not a day later.
With that realization comes another. If the Jets and Flames join the Oilers, Canadiens and Maple Leafs as teams who’ll be watching the playoffs from home, it will mean that only two Canadian-based teams will qualify for the playoffs this season (and that’s assuming the Senators aren’t on the precipice of a Leafs-like collapse).
You may be thinking, “so what, only two Canadian teams made the playoffs last year, too.” And you’d be right. But let me explain why it happening two seasons in a row is actually a big deal.
Between 1980 and 2010 – that’s 30 seasons of NHL hockey – a minimum of three Canadian teams qualified for the post-season every single year. After 30 years of having a minimum of three Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs, we’re now closing in on back to back years with just two Canadian teams in the playoffs. That hasn’t happened since the 1978 and 1979 post-seasons.
So yes, it’s only two years, but based on recent history, this is officially a dry spell for Canadian hockey fans.
- I’m not the only one who thinks it’s “lights out” for the Flames. (Winnipeg Sun)
- The Canucks are relying on minor miracles right now (Vancouver Sun).
- The Maple Leafs signed Hobey Baker finalist and NCAA leading scorer Spencer Abbott on Wednesday (theScore.com). Don’t worry, Don, he’s a good old Ontario boy!
- Pretty cool story on Abbott and his linemate/roomate at Maine, Brian Flynn (The Bangor Daily News). Abbott and Flynn could face each other this weekend when Abbott’s Toronto Marlies take on Flynn’s Rochester Americans.
- Paul MacLean and the Senators have found a balance between rest and rust (Ottawa Citizen). Balance, schmalance. I won’t believe the Sens are a playoff team until they actually clinch a spot. They’re only four points clear of the Capitals and play three of their final five games against playoff-bound teams.
- Is it time to change the NHL’s playoff seeding? (Detroit Free Press). The column makes a great point and voices an opinion that I’m sure most of us share. Winning a weak division shouldn’t be rewarded with a top-three seed and home ice advantage. Personally, I’d like to see a day when all a division title does is guarantee a playoff spot, nothing more. At the very least, go to the NBA’s format where a second place division team can earn a top-three Conference seed if it’s deserved.
- Why the Stars’ future took a back seat to their present on Wednesday (Dallas Morning News). With four teams separated by just two points and the Ducks playing the stubborn spoiler, Pacific Division matchups are absolute must-watch games over the next 10 days.
- The Coyotes’ playoff picture is looking bleak (Fox Sports Arizona). Outside of the fact that almost everything for that franchise looks bleak, for God’s sake, they’re still only one point out with five games to go, and are just two points out of the division lead.
- Debunking the myth of “the hot team” heading into the playoffs (The Sporting News). If you really do put stock in teams that head into the post-season on a streak, or jump off the bandwagon of teams who struggle in March or April, this read should open your eyes.
- The Top 10 “sickest NHL dangles” (Puck Daddy). Because who doesn’t like a debatable, entertaining, highlight reel sports countdown?
- Speaking of highlight reels, have you seen theScore.com’s newest feature? “Power Plays” is a nightly feature that runs through the best plays of the night in the NHL. Here’s last night’s edition. (theScore.com)
- Zdeno Chara is the Easter Bunny of your nightmares. I hope none of you were planning on going back to sleep after reading this.