The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff games were a disappointment to Canadians everywhere as none of the Canadian NHL teams moved on to compete for the Holy Grail of hockey. It was only the second time in Stanley Cup history where this happened, the first time being in the 70’s. This time around, the Canadian teams are undoubtedly feeling the pressure to at least qualify for the postseason games. The question on everybody’s mind is how many teams, if any, will represent our country in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs?
So far, so good! 2017 is looking promising for Canadian hockey, and I’m happy to say that last year’s disappointment will not happen again. The teams sitting in playoff positions are the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators, currently sitting at first and second place respectively in the Atlantic division. Sitting third in the Pacific division, the Edmonton Oilers can also see playoffs in their future. The Calgary Flames are even incredibly close to a wildcard position. This is not surprising, not for me at least. But let’s look at something that is: the Toronto Maple Leafs.
As it currently stands, the Leafs are currently 4th in the Atlantic division trailing by a measly 3 points behind Boston who are current playoff position holders. This makes the Leafs 3rd on the wildcard list, where only the top two teams from each conference will move on to the playoffs. The Leafs are 3 points behind Philly for one of the wildcard spots. I repeat, the Toronto Maple Leafs are 3rd on a list that accepts the top two and 4th on a list that accepts the top 3. Is 2017 their chance? The energy that the Leafs have been putting out this season has shocked some, and confused few. In my opinion, the team has improved greatly, especially in terms of defense. But will that be enough to snag a spot in postseason? Unlikely. But then again, stranger things have happened on the ice.
After the catastrophe of having no Canadian teams qualify for the Stanley Cup games, having three currently secured playoff spots and two teams inching closer and closer to wildcard slots is something to celebrate. This is Canada’s game, so let’s take it back.