By Patrick Hoffman
Going into the Stanley Cup playoffs, there was so much promise for three Canadian teams that had made it to the dance.
The Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Winnipeg Jets were among the best teams in the league in the regular season. They all had a high-octane offense that could score with anybody and they also had teams that had enough depth to get through a few rounds in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Canada will once again not be seeing the Cup this season. It's unbelievably disappointing because many thought that this could be the year in which the Cup was won north of the border, but instead, it will once again be one by an American team.
To make matters worse for these three teams, they all got knocked out in the first round. The Flames lost in five games to the Colorado Avalanche. The Winnipeg Jets lost to the St. Louis Blues in six games and the Toronto Maple Leafs lost in seven games to the Boston Bruins.
Each team did not play well defensively, did not get consistent goaltending, and their star players were rather quiet in a situation where the team needed them the most. You could also tell that when each of these teams were trailing in a game, their body language and play dipped considerably.
When it comes to the Leafs, head coach Mike Babcock did not make the adjustments he needed to in order to get this team to the next round. Like he always does, he did things his way and unfortunately for his hockey club, it cost them a chance to get into the second round.
For the Flames, it was an unbelievably disappointing series. The club did not play well defensively, struggled on offense, and got inconsistent netminding from Mike Smith.
It's tough to explain the Jets' series. There is no doubt that their goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck struggled at times, but I believe that the Blues' carried momentum from the regular season into this series and the Jets simply could not match it.
When you put all of these things together, you end up with another year without winning the Cup. A Canadian team has not won the Cup since 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens captured hockey's Holy Grail.
For now, the drought continues and fans of each of these team's go into the offseason thinking about what went wrong and what exactly they have to do to win it all.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.