Monday Musings: NHL playoff scene bleak for Canadian teams | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday Musings: NHL playoff scene bleak for Canadian teams

Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014 | 08:39 AM

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Brendan Gallagher and the Montreal Canadiens look to be the only Canadian team home and cooled out during NHL stretch run. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) Brendan Gallagher and the Montreal Canadiens look to be the only Canadian team home and cooled out during NHL stretch run. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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Unless there a miraculous finish by the Vancouver Canucks and/or Toronto Maple Leafs, there will be only one Canadian team in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in 41 years.

Some Monday morning musings from the NHL and the rest of the hockey world to prepare you for the upcoming week that will see:

  • The legendary Gordie Howe celebrates his 86th birthday with family and friends on Monday.
  • Anaheim Ducks ageless wonder Teemu Selanne, 43, will play Winnipeg for the final time on Monday. He broke into the NHL with the Jets in 1992.
  • After seven seasons as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, Alain Vigneault returns to Vancouver as bench boss for the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Unlike the Canucks, the Rangers are destined for the 2014 post-season.
  • There may be some tire pumping going on in South Florida when Tim Thomas returns as a member of the Dallas Stars to play Roberto Luongo and the Panthers on Sunday. The Panthers traded Thomas to Dallas when they re-acquired Luongo earlier this month.

Woe Canada

The NHL weekend began in a bad way for the Canadian clubs in the NHL when the Toronto Maple Leafs dropped a 4-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers and ended with a thud when the Edmonton Oilers were shut out 5-0 at home by the Rangers on Sunday.

The Canadian contingent in the NHL is in a sorry state these days. With the exception of the Montreal Canadiens, the 2013-14 campaign were unexpected disasters in Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. The Flames were more competitive than expected, but they're still 26th out of 30 teams overall with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Unless there is some sort of miraculous finish for the Canucks and/or the Maple Leafs, the only post-season hockey in Canada this spring will be played in Montreal. You have to go all the way back to 1973 to find the last time there was only one Canadian club in the Stanley Cup playoffs (scroll further down for a year-by-year breakdown since 1970).

Step backwards

Even the Habs, who have won eight of their past nine outings, took a step backwards this season in terms of the overall standings from last year's lockout-shortened year.

Team         2013   2013-14

Calgary       25       26

Edmonton   24       29

Montreal     4         9   

Ottawa       14        22      

Toronto       9         19 

Vancouver   8         20 

Winnipeg    18        24 

Recent history

The Canucks (twice), Flames, Oilers and Senators have made runs to the final in the last two decades, but there hasn't been a Canadian club win the Stanley Cup since the 1992-93 Canadiens. It's probably a good thing that the Canadian hockey fan has been able to let loose to celebrate gold in three of the past four Olympic Games.

For the most part, it hasn't been a pretty picture come springtime on the Canadian hockey scene.

Calgary Flames

Last hurrah: The Flames lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the seventh game of the 2004 Stanley Cup final. 

Tough times: They have not won a series since 2004 and will miss the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.

Edmonton Oilers

Last hurrah: The Oilers took the Carolina Hurricanes to a seventh game, but lost in the 2006 final.

Tough times: This will be the eighth season in a row they miss the playoffs, the longest current streak of futility in the NHL.

Montreal Canadiens 

Last hurrah: They surprised the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins in the first two rounds in 2010, only to lose the Eastern Conference final to the Philadelphia Flyers in five games. 

Tough times: Since their run to the conference final three years ago, they missed the playoffs in 2012 and were eliminated in the first round in 2011 and last year.

Ottawa Senators

Last hurrah: They made it to the 2007 final, but were turned aside by Anaheim in five games. 

Tough times: After the Senators made the playoffs 11 years in a row, they will miss the post-season for the third time in six years and have won only one series.

Toronto Maple Leafs 

Last hurrah: In 2002, the Maple Leafs made it to the conference final for the fourth time in 10 seasons, but were ousted by the Hurricanes in six games.

Tough times: Toronto will miss the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years and hasn't won a series since a first-round victory over Ottawa in 2004.

Vancouver Canucks

Last hurrah: The Canucks were up 3-2 in the 2011 Stanley Cup final, but were outscored 9-2 in the final two games to allow the Boston Bruins to take the title.

Tough times: Since that trip to the final, they haven't won a series. In fact, they have won only one post-season outing in nine tries.

Winnipeg Jets

Last hurrah: The Jets have advanced past the first round only twice, in 1985 and 1987.

Tough times: The Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise will miss the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 seasons.

Since 1970 

As mentioned above, the last time there was only one Canadian-based team in the playoffs was in 1973, when Montreal won the Stanley Cup. Here's a year-by-year breakdown of the Canadian playoff teams dating back to 1970:

2013 (4) - Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver.

2012 (2) - Ottawa, Vancouver.

2011 (2) - Montreal, Vancouver.

2010 (3) - Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver.

2009 (3) - Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver.

2008 (3) - Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa.

2007 (3) - Calgary, Ottawa, Vancouver.

2006 (4) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa.

2005 - NHL lockout cancelled season.

2004 (5) - Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver.

2003 (4) - Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver.

2002 (4) - Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver.

2001 (4) - Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver.

2000 (3) - Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto.

1999 (3) - Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto.

1998 (3) - Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa.

1997 (3) - Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa.

1996 (5) - Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

1995 (4) - Calgary, Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver.

1994 (4) - Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.

1993 (6) - Calgary, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

1992 (4) - Edmonton, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

1991 (4) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Vancouver.

1990 (5) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg.

1989 (4) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec.

1988 (5) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg.

1987 (6) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Winnipeg.

1986 (7) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

1985 (5) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Winnipeg.

1984 (6) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

1983 (7) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

1982 (6) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

1981 (6) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver.

1980 (5) - Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.

1979 (3) - Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.

1978 (2) - Montreal, Toronto.

1977 (2) - Montreal, Toronto.

1976 (3) - Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.

1975 (3) - Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.

1974 (2) - Montreal, Toronto.

1973 (1) - Montreal.

1972 (2) - Montreal, Toronto.

1971 (2) - Montreal, Toronto.

1970 (0)

By the numbers

1 - Assist for UMass-Lowell defenceman Christian Folin in his final U.S. college game, a 4-3 loss to Boston College on Sunday. The 23-year-old Swede is the top collegiate free agent and he will have more than 20 teams try to sign him this week. Meanwhile, Boston College will join Minnesota, North Dakota and Union in the Frozen Four in Philadelphia from April 10-12.

2 - Days after he was hospitalized after he collapsed with light-headedness and shortness of breath following Game 3 in the first round against the Regina Pats, 18-year-old Jayce Hawryluk of the Brandon Wheat Kings returned to score a goal and an assist to complete Brandon's series sweep on Friday. Hawryluk checked in with five goals and 10 points in four games.

3 - Times the Colorado Avalanche has lost a key player to injury in the first minute of a game this season. Matt Duchene left 32 seconds into the game on Saturday. Paul Stastny departed after 40 seconds into the Avalanche game on March 8. Two nights later, P.A. Parenteau suffered an ailment 49 seconds into a game.

28 - Days that Kootenay Ice forward Tim Bozon spent in Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon after he was diagnosed with meningitis. The 20-year-old Montreal Canadiens prospect was released last Friday and returned to Kootenay to drop the puck in a ceremony before Game 6 of his team's first-round series against the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday. He then watched the Ice eliminate Calgary with a 5-3 win.

443 - Career AHL and ECHL regular-season and playoff games for 30-year-old undrafted former University of Notre Dame centre Mark Van Guilder of Roseville, Minn., before he played his first NHL game for the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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