Canadian Power Rankings: Midseason Report
Circumstances have changed since the puck first dropped on opening night. A night that saw Leafs rookie sensation Auston Matthews bang home four goals in his NHL debut. If the playoffs started today, four of the seven Canadian teams would be in a playoff spot. Quite the contrast to last season which had zero, yes zero (NOT ONE), playoff hockey games hosted in a Canadian city. Unfortunately for some Canadian hockey fans, the playoffs do not start today. However, there is still hope! Here is my midseason review of the seven Canadian teams.
7. Winnipeg Jets-20–21–3 (5th Central, 11th West, From 6 → to 7)
The Jets have been bitten by the injury bug this year. At times, they have shown promise. Rookie sniper Patrick Laine has been ON FIRE leading all rookie scoring with 37 points, 21 of those being goals. Sadly, Jake McCabe wanted nothing to do with Laine’s sensational season. McCabe crushed Laine over the weekend with a monstrous hit, leaving him with a concussion. Laine’s timetable for a return has not yet been determined. If the Jets want to make a late surge into the playoffs, they will need to improve on their penalty-kill, which is ranked 26th in the NHL.
Playoffs? No. Sorry Jets fans.
6. Vancouver Canucks-20–19–4 (6th Pacific, 9th West, From 1 → to 6)
Lately, the Vancouver Canucks have been playing decent hockey. Winners of six of their past eight, fresh off a six game winning streak, the Canucks find themselves over .500 for the first time in over a month. Starting the year on a four game winning streak, the Canucks struggled in late October transitioning into November recording only one win over an eleven game period. However the future looks bright for the Canucks as 21 year old Bo Horvat was named to his first All-Star game. Horvat is the youngest Canuck to be named to an ASG since Trevor Linden.
Playoffs? No, 5 points back.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs-18–13–8 (5th Atlantic, 11th East, Even)
The Toronto Maple Leafs have found the fountain of youth in rookie sensations Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Alex Nylander. Matthews is the youngest Leafs All-Star in more than three decades. But don’t let his age fool you. Matthews leads his team in scoring with 35 points and is tied in rookie goal scoring with Laine. If the Leafs continue to play like they have been, a playoff appearance may not be out of reach. The Leafs sit four points behind Philadelphia for the last playoff position and play the Flyers two more times this year.
Playoffs? I sure hope not, made a bet.
4. Ottawa Senators-21–14–4 (3rd Atlantic, 6th East, From 3 → 4)
The Senators do not score many goals, however they don’t need to with the way Craig Anderson has been playing. Anderson is 12–6–1 with a .924 save percentage and three shutouts this season. Whatever goals the Sens do score, they usually come off the stick of Kyle Turris. Turris has already scored one more goal than he did in the 2015/16 season in 28 fewer games. If Ottawa wants to make the playoffs, they will have to go through Montreal and Toronto to do it. The Sens still have to play both teams three times each.
Playoffs? It’ll be close, but no.
3. Calgary Flames-23–19–2 (4th Pacific, 7th West, From 7 → 3)
If you’re a Canucks fan, you may want to skip this section. Matthew Tkachuk is having quite the rookie season for the Flames. Tkachuk is 3rd in team scoring and 4th in rookie scoring. A slow start for the Flames is no longer the case as they have made an upward push in the Pacific Division. In their past 10, the Flames are 6–4–0 and have a relatively easy schedule for the rest of January. Look for them to stay hot (yes a Flames pun).
Playoffs? Sure. Led by Tkachuk. Salt in the wound.
2. Edmonton Oilers-21–15–7 (3rd Pacific, 5th West, Even)
Captain Connor McDavid (AKA McDaddy, McJesus, etc.) has his Oilers in a playoff spot. That’s not a typo. The “if the playoffs started today” cliché is being thrown around frequently in Edmonton. The Oilers have not made the playoffs for ten years. The last playoff game they played, the Oilers dawned their old navy blue jerseys with the mud orange trim. Yuck. Edmonton plays their Albertan rivals Calgary twice in the next two weeks which may have playoff implications. But what if the playoffs started today?!…
Playoffs? YES! Finally! Maybe?!… Hopefully?…
1. Montreal Canadiens-26–10–6 (1st Atlantic, 2nd East, From 4 → 1)
It is amazing what good goaltending can do for a team. For the Habs, good goaltending comes in the form of Carey Price. Price started the year red hot winning 10 straight games. Price is 20–6–4 with a 2.12 GAA and a .928 save percentage. Wow. Injuries have given the Habs some issues lately though. Alex Galchenyuk has been sidelined for a couple of weeks with a lower body injury and Brendan Gallagher is out 8 weeks with broken hand. Uncertain times are ahead for Canada’s best team.
Playoffs? Yes. Barring an epic collapse.