The only post-season qualifier at this point is the Montreal Canadiens. With Price appearing to be in top form, they could go far in the post season where year after year the importance of the man between the pipes is magnified for any team that aspires to capture the Stanley Cup. The problem for fans across Canada is that despite having seven teams to cheer on during the regular season, only one looks to be play-off bound.
Coming off an Olympic hockey gold medal, having just one Canadian team in the post season has got to be a let down for Canada's hockey fans but this is the rather sad reality with just a handful of games left on the schedule. While the Canucks and Leafs have not been mathematically eliminated, it will be a very tough road for either to get in. Both need the teams they are chasing to tank. Toronto just ended an 8 game slide but faces Boston next and cannot afford any more losses. As for Vancouver, they could not afford any losses a week back but have not been salvaging any points of late losing 3-1 last night to the Rangers. Even running the table the rest of the way will leave them on the outside looking in, a very unfamiliar position for a team that finished first overall in the regular season just two years ago.
By the numbers, winning all five remaining games would give the Canucks 89 points. Right now Dallas sits in the final play-off spot with 85 points but still has 7 games left. Managing just two wins and an OT loss in seven tries is a given with a play-off berth hanging in the balance. Besides, the concern for Dallas is not the Canucks but the Coyotes who are also at 85 points but have played one more game. This is the battle for the last spot in the West. By the weekend, Vancouver will likely be mathematically eliminated.
Despite the disaster this season has been for Vancouver, the fans in Toronto probably have more to be depressed about as the recent slide has taken the Leafs from what looked like a sure post season bet just a few weeks ago to the edge of disaster as the number of games remaining conspires against them. Canuck fans realized that it was probably out of reach the night they gave up seven goals in the third period to the Islanders. Without help, there is really nothing either team can do to extend their season.
The two teams the Leafs are chasing each have 2 games in hand. With just 5 games left, the Leafs destiny is not in their own hands as they they picked the worst possible time to go win less over a span that equates to one tenth of their season. Barring a miracle out West and back East, there will be just one lone Canadian team trying to bring the Cup back to Canada.