Canada’s NHL teams in danger of missing playoffs for the first time since 1969
Just one year ago, fans across the country were celebrating as five of seven Canadian teams (sorry Toronto and Edmonton), headed into playoffs, with the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames advancing to the second.
Now heading into NHL all-star break, Canada’s seven teams are looking at a bleak second half of the season as they all sit outside a post-season spot.
Famed hockey analyst Don Cherry doesn’t see April getting much better with only the Vancouver Canucks or Montreal Canadiens having a shot at reaching the playoffs.
“I think Vancouver will make it and the Canadiens will be knocking on the door,” Cherry said Wednesday. “At one time we had six (Canadian teams) in. I’d love to see six in, but I don’t think it will happen.”
Canada hasn’t seen the Stanley Cup come home in 21 years. If a Canadian team doesn’t make the playoffs this spring it will be the first time that has happened since 1969-70.
As the 2016 NHL All-Star weekend is set to take place in Nashville this weekend and here’s where Canada’s teams sit before the break.
Record: 20-19-11 (51 points)
Western Conference standing: 11th
Daniel Sedin has led the way for the Canucks with 21 goals, 44 points. The Vancouver Canucks are the closest Canadian team to making the playoffs at just two points back.
The Nashville Predators beat the Canucks 2-1 on Tuesday. A bad line change allowed James Neal to score the winner and the mental mistakes have piled up for Vancouver costing them several precious points in the past few games.
Record: 21-24-3 (45 points)
Western Conference standing: 13th
The Nashville Predators topped the Flames 2-1 Wednesday, leaving them eight points out of the playoffs. Calgary has struggled on the road this season going 7-14-3 overall. They currently sit second-last in the Western Conference.
The goaltending for the Flames has been questionable, allowing 3.00 goals against per game, good for second-worst in the league. They have struggled on special teams as well, with a power play of 13.9 per cent and penalty kill of 4.3 per cent, both the worst in the league.
Record: 19-26-5 (43 points)
Western Conference standing: 14th
The media hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t have been higher for the 19-year-old centre, who scored five goals and seven assists in his first 13 games. On Nov. 3 McDavid broke his left collarbone in a game against Philadelphia and isn’t expected back in the lineup until Feb. 2.
The Oilers have also struggled on the road this season with a record of 6-16-4 and have decreased production from star forwards Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Record: 22-24-3 (47 points)
Western Conference standing: 12th
The Winnipeg Jets downed the Phoenix Coyotes Wednesday but still sit eight points out of a playoff spot. The Jets’ two best players — Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien — are both unrestricted free agents and seem to have been a distraction for the team this year.
With three teams between Winnipeg and the wild-card spot they will have make a serious run down the stretch to be in the playoff hunt.
Record: 24-22-4 (52 points)
Eastern Conference standing: 11th
The Habs continued their downward slide losing 5-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday and have lost two straight games. Goaltender Carey Price, the reigning NHL MVP, is still injured and if he can’t get back on the ice soon, the playoffs may be out of reach for the Canadiens.
Record: 23-21-6 (52 points)
Eastern Conference standing: 12th
The Sens are three points out of a wild card spot in the East. Ottawa lost to the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday and have now fallen to 23-21-6.
Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond was a standout as a rookie for the Senators going 20-1-2 late in the 2015 season, but has struggled in the 2015-2016 season. He is just 3-5-2 with a 2.96 goals-against average and has faced nagging injuries.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Record: 17-22-9 (43 points)
Eastern Conference standing: 15th
The Leafs are now 17-22-9 and tied for last in the NHL. They have been dreadful losing nine of their last 10 games (1-7-2), and have been outscored 31-11 during the stretch. One bright spot is James Reimer, who is having a solid season in net maintaining a 2.10 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.
Perhaps Steven Stamkos who becomes a free agent July 1 could turn the Leafs fortunes around if he lands in Toronto next year.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated that six Canadian NHL teams reached the playoffs last year when only five reached the post. Global News apologizes for the error.
*With files from the Canadian Press
© 2016 Shaw Media