It's time for the Cup to Return to Canada
By Patrick Hoffman
Since I've written for this great site before, you will probably remember that I am an American.
I'm someone who grew up a New York Rangers fan and while I am still a Blueshirt fan today, I consider myself more of an NHL fan. I follow the league as a whole as it allows me to enjoy the sport all season long.
With that said, however, I absolutely love Canada. I've been to Toronto with my family and if you remember from a piece I did back in July of 2017, I went on a road trip with the Rangers to Montreal.
I may not be Canadian, but when it comes to my favorite sport, I am the mighty red leaf. That is something I am unbelievably proud of.
It is at this time that I would like to point out that I would love to see the Cup won by a Canadian team this season. The last time a team north of the border won hockey's Holy Grail was in 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings in six games.
Since then, however, it's been nothing but heartbreak when it comes to the most important time of the season. Here is how unlucky Canadian hockey teams have been in the postseason:
- The Calgary Flames lost in the Cup Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in 2004
- The Edmonton Oilers lost in the Cup Final to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games in 2006
- The Ottawa Senators lost in the Cup Final to the Anaheim Ducks in five games in 2007
- The Vancouver Canucks lost in the Cup Final to the Boston Bruins in seven games in 2011
There was also a few times that the Toronto Maple Leafs made it to the Eastern Conference Finals (1999 and 2002) and even the Montreal Canadiens made it to the Conference Finals in 2010 when their magical run was ended by the Philadelphia Flyers. Basically put, teams from Canada certainly had their opportunities to win it all.
Fast forward to now and there are three great teams that have a chance to win it all this season. That's the right folks. The Leafs, Flames, and the Winnipeg Jets all had terrific regular seasons and are all considered serious contenders heading into the postseason.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs struggled down the stretch, but managed to finish the season with the seventh best record in the league. With a potent offense featuring guys like Mitch Marner (94 points), John Tavares (88 points), and Auston Matthews (73 points), this team should have no problem putting the puck in the net.
It's keeping the puck out of the net that could ultimately decide their fate. This team gives up a lot of shots and no one is quite sure how Frederik Andersen is going to play considering the fact that he had a heavy workload once again this year, which was something that hurt him last year in the playoffs.
Believe it or not, the Flames had the league's second best record with 107 points. Like the Leafs, this team thrived with a high-octane offense that features Johnny Gaudreau (99 points), Sean Monahan (82 points), Elias Lindholm (78 points), and Matthew Tkachuk (77 points).
This team can put the puck in the net, but if they get inconsistent goaltending like they did the whole season with David Rittich and Mike Smith essentially splitting the season between the pipes, it could end up costing them when it matters most.
After getting to the Western Conference Finals last season, the Jets had another strong season this year as they finished tenth in the league with 99 points. This team rode on the backs of Blake Wheeler (91 points) and Mark Scheifele while also relying on their depth to chip in.
For the Jets to have a true shot of winning this thing, they are going to need starting goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to play like Hellebuyck of last season. It was an up and down regular season for the 25-year-old masked man so hopefully for the Jets, the playoffs will be one of his up times.
Bring it Back to Canada
Again, I'm American, but in my heart of hearts, I would love to see a Canadian team win the most important trophy in hockey.
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.