Can the Edmonton Oilers make it six Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Or is this just wishful thinking?
Can they join the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs in four weeks? (Assuming all those other teams advance)
The current three-game win streak, the longest for the Oilers this season, has given them hope. So has the three-game losing streak by the St. Louis Blues.
Yes, we know the Columbus Blue Jackets now occupy eighth spot in the West. But as the NHL lockout shortened season approaches the three-quarter mark, it is the St. Louis Blues who are on pace to snatch eighth in the West.
They have three games in hand on Columbus and one on Edmonton. The Blues are on a pace for eighth place at 52 points. That means the Oilers would need a minimum 18 points in their remaining 14 games to grab the final playoff spot.
The schedule does not exactly favour Edmonton. The Oilers have eight games left at home, six more on the road. But they only have five games remaining against teams currently out of the top-eight in the West standings.
More nights like Taylor Hall's hat trick against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday would be helpful. But at least the final 27 days of the regular season, beginning at home against the Calgary Flames on Monday, will be meaningful.
Which is more than can be said about the past six seasons.
Stanley Cup deadline deals
Often teams that win the Stanley Cup make a key move or two to help them over the hump. One of the most famous deadline deals that transformed a team into a champion was when the New York Islanders acquired Butch Goring prior to their first of four consecutive titles in 1980.
Here is a review of what the Stanley Cup champs have done near the trade deadline since the 2004-05 lockout.
2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes - They acquired right wing Mark Recchi from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Niklas Nordgren, Krys Kolanos and a 2007 second-round draft pick (later traded to San Jose). The Hurricanes also added a key piece to the puzzle on Jan. 30 in Doug Weight from St. Louis (along with Erkki Rajamaki) for Jesse Boulerice, Michael Zigomanis, Magnus Kahnberg and a first-round draft choice.
2006-07 Anaheim Ducks - They traded for veteran fourth-line left wing Brad May from the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 27, 2007 in exchange for goalie Michael Wall.
2007-08 Detroit Red Wings - They acquired defenceman Brad Stuart from the Los Angeles for a second-round pick in the 2008 draft (later traded to Colorado) and 4th-round pick in 2009.
2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins - They dealt for veteran forward Bill Guerin from New York Islanders for a conditional pick in the 2009 draft. A week earlier, they grabbed Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi from Anaheim for Ryan Whitney.
2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks - Three weeks before the trade deadline, the Blackhawks traded defenceman Cam Barker to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for veteran Kim Johnson and prospect Nick Leddy, now a key performer in Chicago.
2010-11 Boston Bruins - They made three separate trades a week before the deadline. They acquired Chris Kelly from the Ottawa Senators for a second-round choice. Rich Peverley arrived in Boston, along with and blue-liner Boris Valabik, from the Atlanta Thrashers for Mark Stuart and Black Wheeler. Defenceman Tomas Kaberle was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Joe Colborne, a first-round choice and a conditional second-round pick that would have gone Toronto's way only if Kaberle re-signing in Boston. He, of course, did not.
2011-12 Los Angeles Kings - They traded defenceman Jack Johnson and a first-round selection to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jeff Carter.
With all the chatter over the last week about the possibility of goalies like Roberto Luongo, Miikka Kiprusoff, Jonathan Bernier and Brian Elliott being traded, it should be noted that there hasn't been a lot of goalie movement the past two seasons.
In fact, there hasn't been one netminder who has played with two different NHL teams this season. Ben Bishop was the only goalie to be traded last year. He went from the St. Louis Blues to the Ottawa Senators.
Even if you go back to 2009-10 and 2010-11, there were only two significant goalie moves that impacted the playoffs in the Philadelphia Flyers acquisition of Michael Leighton, who helped them reach the Stanley Cup final, and Dwayne Roloson became a key performer in the Tampa Bay Lightning's march to the East final.
Here is a summary of the goaltender movement the past four seasons.
None so far
Lightning the lamp
Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos became the first NHLer to hit the 25-goal mark in the lockout-shortened season on Friday. Remember, 30 goals in a 48-game schedule is the equivalent of 50 goals in an 82-game season.
Even though, the 23-year-old Stamkos got off to a slow start in his rookie season, he leads the league in goals scored since he entered the NHL in 2008-09. Here are the top-10 in the past four-plus seasons:
Add another chapter of success for the hockey-loving Jones family from Montrose, B.C.
On Sunday, Connor and Kellen, the twin sons of Loretta and Terry Jones, helped guide top-ranked Quinnipiac University to a spot in the NCAA Frozen Four, which will be played in Pittsburgh, April 11-13.
Quinnipiac, a school of 8,400 students in Hamden, Conn. defeated Union 5-1 on Sunday on the strength of the play from the Jones twins and their linemate Matthew Peca of Petawawa, Ont., who scored a first-period hat trick. Kellen scored once and had an assist, while Connor checked in with two assists.
We shouldn't be surprised because hockey success runs in the Jones' family. The twins' father, Terry Jr., helped the Portland Winter Hawks win the 1982-83 Memorial Cup. Their grandfather, Terry Sr., was a second-round selection of the New York Rangers in 1963 and played several seasons in their minor-league system.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound twins also helped the Vernon Vipers win back-to-back Royal Cup tier II national junior championships in 2009 and 2010.
They're both in their third seasons with Quinnipiac. Kellen, 22, is a 2010 seventh-round draft pick of the Oilers. But both twins have attended the past three Oilers summer-time prospect camps.
In two weeks at the Frozen Four, Quinnipiac matches up against St. Cloud State in one NCAA semifinal. Massachusetts-Lowell will play Yale in the other.
By the numbers
7 - game road trip for the Ottawa Senators because of the 2013 IIHF world women's championship at Scotiabank Place. The Senators trip will take them to Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Boston again over the next two weeks.
8 - NHL coaches who have won the Calder Cup after Jon Cooper took over in Tampa Bay last Friday. Cooper steered Norfolk to the AHL championship last spring. The others include Nashville's Barry Trotz (Portland, 1994), N.Y. Rangers' John Tortorella (Rochester, 1996), Calgary's Bob Hartley (Hershey, 1997), Philadelphia's Peter Laviolette (Providence, 1999), San Jose's Todd McLellan (Houston, 2003), Winnipeg's Claude Noel (Milwaukee, 2004) and Anaheim's Bruce Boudreau (Hershey, 2006).
10 - different players who have scored game-winning goals for the Penguins in their win streak: Brandon Sutter (3), Chris Kunitz (3), James Neal (2), Pascal Dupuis, Beau Bennett, Joe Vitale, Tyler Kennedy, Matt Niskanen, Crosby and Matt Cooke.
15 - game win streak for the Pittsburgh Penguins, which is two shy from the all-time mark set by 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that was upset in the second round of the playoffs by goalie Glenn Healy and the New York Islanders.
491 - appearances for Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller on Sunday, tying him with Dominik Hasek for the franchise all-time lead for games played by a Sabres goalie.
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