There are 5 Canadian teams in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, just like in 2015, the last year Canadian teams made the Stanley Cup playoffs. The 2 new teams, Toronto and Edmonton, have gone through horrible slumps away from the playoffs. The 2 teams on the out in 2017, Vancouver and Winnipeg, were eliminated along with Ottawa in the first round in 2015.
Toronto hasn't played a Game 83 since 2004. Edmonton hasn't played a Game 83 since 2006. The last time Edmonton made the playoffs, Stephen Harper had only been prime minister for a few months. The last time Toronto made the playoffs in a full season, Paul Martin had a majority government as prime minister.
We lost out on chances on a Battle of Ontario and Battle of Alberta. A Toronto Maple Leafs goal against Columbus and a Los Angeles Kings goal in Anaheim Sunday night would have produced those battles. The Battle of Alberta will happen if Edmonton and Calgary win in the 1st round. As for the Battle of Ontario, Ottawa and Toronto could only meet in the Eastern Conference final. If you bet a lot on that and win, you might be able to have enough money to move to Canada.
This is the first year since 1996 with Canadian teams in 5 different series: Montréal (6) from the east; Toronto (4), Calgary (6), Vancouver (7), and Winnipeg (8) from the west. Unfortunately, all the Canadian teams lost in the first round that year with the previous Quebec Nordiques winning the Stanley Cup but as the Colorado Avalanche.
Hopefully, this preview will get you set to follow as many Canadian teams as you want to handle.
We might have been a bit greedy over a playoff Battle of Alberta. The teams were in the playoffs together in 2006 where Edmonton got to the Stanley Cup final and Calgary lost to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the opening round. The previous time both teams were in the playoffs AND met each other was the opening round in 1991. The Oilers edged out the Flames in the opening round and advanced to the conference final, losing to the Minnesota North Stars.
Edmonton and Calgary are together in the playoffs for only the second time in the last 25 years. The 2005-2006 season, where Edmonton advanced from the #8 seed to nearly winning the Stanley Cup, was the only other time.
The Oilers were trying for their first division title in 30 years. Edmonton was the Smythe Division champ in 1987 and won the Stanley Cup. The Oilers won their last 2 Stanley Cup titles in 1988 and 1990 by finishing second in the Smythe Division.
Speaking of long streaks, you have to go back to January 19, 2004 for the last time the Calgary Flames won in regulation in Anaheim. The streak is at 26 games, including 2 games in the 2015 second round of the playoffs. The Flames are more solid in goal with Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson. But Calgary has to find mental will to get past the streak.
My millennial readers as well as casual fans may not know that the Toronto Maple Leafs used to make the playoffs without bells and sirens going off. Since the lockout in 2005, the only playoff appearance has been in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. Before the lockout, the Maple Leafs had made the playoffs 6 years in a row and 10 of the previous 12 years.
The Leafs last playoff series win came in 2004. The team made the conference final in 2002, 1999, 1994, and 1993. Just not lately.
While some can poke fun at Edmonton's decade-long absence from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Oilers did something in 2006 that the Maple Leafs haven't done since hockey telecasts switched to colour: be in the Stanley Cup finals.
The ongoing fear was that the New York Rangers as the #7 seed would have more points than the "Adams" division winner. Turns out the Montréal Canadiens finished with 103 points vs. 102 points for the Rangers.
If I had set up the NHL wild card system, the top wild card team would never leave its division, but have the 2nd wild card go to the better remaining team. In that case, the Rangers would go to Washington and the Maple Leafs would travel to Montréal.
Pittsburgh-Columbus is the other series featuring teams that both reached 100 points.
U.S. television coverage
U.S. viewers will be able to stream games on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. This will be most helpful in times when East Coast playoff games go to overtime. As we learned 2 years ago, you can get anthems otherwise not aired.
Something truly brand new is that national broadcasts will compete alongside local telecasts. If you wanted a Canadian feed in your local market in the first round, you were out of luck. Now if a Canadian feed is running on the national feed, you won't be blacked out from that national feed.
If your team is playing Chicago, San Jose, or Washington, you might still get Comcast local feeds as the national feed. But if they run a national feed, you can watch that feed. The offer does not apply in Boston and Pittsburgh, so there will still be local blackouts of national feeds in those markets.
We are still quite stunned that NBC, not NBCSN, but the actual NBC is coming to Canada in the opening round and it's not Toronto or Montréal. Game 2 of Boston-Ottawa from the Canadian capital will be on NBC. Canadians who can pick up NBC without cable might choose that over Sportsnet.
Sunday night, before the Leafs lost in regulation, NBC was thinking Boston-Washington for that afternoon slot and CBC was thinking Toronto-Ottawa for Saturday night. Neither network got its wish. The NBC crew will have to explain a lot about Ottawa since the Senators were virtually persona non grata in the U.S. this season.
NBC loves to reveal its lineups like we're watching a mystery unfold. Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro will call the first four 4 Canadiens games on the NBC networks as well as a diversion to Nashville for Game 3 with Chicago. We know this because Miller is very good on Twitter.
We know NBC will carry CBC/SN simulcasts on Game 1 on the Ottawa and Calgary series. U.S. television is much less reluctant to take Canadian simulcasts as in the past. For Game 1, we aren't getting San Jose or Washington feeds. For at least the first 4 games for Edmonton, New York Islanders newcomer Brendan Burke will work with Mike Johnson, formerly of Rogers and TSN. Dave Strader and Brian Boucher will be together in Washington for Toronto's Game 1 and Game 2.
Boucher is useless as an analyst; Burke is an unknown. Johnson and Strader are well above-average. Chris Cuthbert will be in the mix in the first round. If you are interested in following the TSN announcers on the U.S. side of the border, check out their Twitter feeds.
The CBC will only have Canadian teams in its coverage. All the rest of the games are on Sportsnet channels. City TV is not used for the playoffs.
CBC is not airing Sunday night games to carry episodes of Anne and The Story of Us. This is why Game 3 of the Montréal Canadiens series will air on Rogers Sportsnet. The CBC should be able to air Game 3 late night on Sunday but Rogers and CBC aren't that creative.
The channel should be limited to the Montréal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Calgary Flames series but as we move closer to a potential Game 7, the schedule could change.
Here is the CBC schedule for Games 1-4:
April 12 New York Rangers @ Montréal, 7 pm
April 13 Toronto @ Washington, 7 pm // Calgary @ Anaheim, 10:30 pm
April 14 New York Rangers @ Montréal, 7 pm
April 15 Toronto @ Washington, 7 pm // Calgary @ Anaheim, 10:30 pm
April 17 Washington @ Toronto, 7 pm // Anaheim @ Calgary, 10 pm
April 18 Montréal @ New York Rangers, 7 pm
April 19 Washington @ Toronto, 7 pm // Anaheim @ Calgary, 10 pm
The Rogers crews flow like this:
Toronto: Jim Hughson/Craig Simpson/Scott Oake
Ottawa: Bob Cole/Greg Millen/Christine Simpson
Montréal: Paul Romanuk/Garry Galley/Kyle Bukauskas
Edmonton: Dave Randorf/Louie DeBrusk/Cassie Campbell-Pascall
Calgary: Rick Ball/John Garrett/Roger Millions
Ball and Garrett worked together in 2015 in the playoffs, the only other time a 5th crew was used. Would love to see Campbell-Pascall be also calling the action but she will be the reporter in that series. The U.S. audience is virtually assured to be shut out of the Canadian coverage for the Oilers. Hoping the rebroadcasts give us the Sportsnet feed. Even as Cole will likely call a 3rd round series, he draws the least of the 3 eastern series in the first round. Bukauskas draws a huge assignment to be the reporter in that series.
logo credit: NHL