The NHL Playoffs start on May 11, and we couldn’t be more excited. Why? Easy: four Canadian teams will play. And they’re really good ones who have a chance to (finally) bring the Stanley Cup home.
Four Canadian Teams Will Make the Playoffs (by Default)
Thanks to the North division, we’ll see four Canadian teams in the playoffs this year. If you haven’t been paying too much attention to the NHL, here’s what happened. Basically, the divisions got completely reshuffled, with all seven Canadian teams making up the North division. Our teams haven’t been crossing the border; they’ve just been playing other Canadian teams. Because the playoffs will take the top four teams of each division, four Canadian teams will make the playoffs. But these teams are so good we bet they would have made the playoffs even with normal divisions.
The Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews aren’t just leading the Leafs in point production. In fact, they’ve been consistently in the top ten goal scorer’s club during the whole season. Defence and goaltending have been a problem sometimes, but we’ve seen the Leafs shut down hyperactive goal scorers like McDavid and Draisaitl, so they can do it in a crunch—and the playoffs is all crunch.
They’ve never won a Stanley Cup. They’ve never won a conference. They’ve never even won a division. But this year might finally be their year. They’re jockeying with the Leafs for the top spot in the North, and they just might get it thanks to Mark Scheifele, pride of Kitchener, Ontario, who might finish the season as the top five goal scorer in the league. It also helps that they have one of the best goalkeepers in the league, Connor Hellebuyck, who has a .917 save percentage (at the time of writing).
Unless there’s a complete disaster in the final stretch, the Oilers are going to the playoffs. And why not? Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lead the entire league in points and the team’s defensive wing, led by Darnell Nurse, is looking a lot stronger lately. In fact, McDavid might hit 100 points in this abbreviated season. Of course, relying on just a few guys for point production is dicey . . . but hey, watch McDavid take it coast-to-coast against the Leafs.
Okay, technically the Flames or the Canuks could take the fourth spot. They’re in the running. But with Sports Club Stats pegging their chances in the single digits, we’re inclined to believe in the Habs. They had a rough start, with a bunch of games delayed due to COVID-19, but new coach Dominique Ducharme is doing some good and Carey Price’s save percentage is going up.