Monday, August 20, 2007

Off-Season Journal, Day 75: Which Canadian Team Will Choke Next June?

Christ, please tell me all Flames fans look like this.


It has happened three years in a row. One fledgling Canadian team has singlehandedly captured the hopes and dreams of the entire nation with a brilliant run to the Stanley Cup finals. Each time, those hope and dreams have come crashing down like something that crashes and burns really, really well. The Hindenburg comes to mind. So does the monk in that famous picture.

You get the point. The Flames made a run in 2004, the Oilers had their 15 minutes of fame in 2006 and the Senators got pwned this year.

While all of us Americans sit around and twiddle our thumbs in June because we can't possibly be bothered to rally around some team from a God-knows-where small market that we've never heard of, Canadians are banding together each summer in the hopes that they can recover what has been stolen taken from them. I'm talking about the Stanley Cup, of course.

We Americans really can't get behind these types of things. I mean, since when has Canada stolen anything from us? That's besides the fact that we just don't like to 'rally together'. Not since Woodstock, anyway.

I'm sure all the Canadian readers know exactly where I'm going with this. Today I'm going to take a look at the chances that one of the eight seven six Canadian teams left in the NHL will make a sweet Cup run, only to give their fans the distinct feeling of get stabbed in the heart when their team comes up short.

Not a snowball's chance in hell: Edmonton Oilers
Kevin Lowe's newest incarnation of the Oilers isn't going to get to the playoffs this year. I'm going to make no bones about it. This team fell flat on their faces the second Ryan Smyth walked out the door -- and he's not coming back anytime soon. Joni Pitkanen, Sheldon 'Swiss Cheese' Souray and Dustin Penner have been brought in to try and fix things, but I can't fathom the Oilers making the playoffs in what has been the better conference in recent years. There's a big gap out West between the haves and the have-nots, and right now the Oilers are still a have-not.

Ask me again later: Calgary Flames
The Flames finished eighth in the Western Conference last season, and I can't see them finishing much higher this season. They're not totally out of the running for this illustrious prize, though. The Oilers were able to make their 2006 run from the 8th playoff spot, so there's no doubt that the Flames could very well do the same. In fact, the Flames made their Finals run in 2004 from the sixth spot. If they do come up in eighth, don't count them out, but it's certainly going to be an uphill battle.

One of the most interesting story lines in Calgary this season (other than Mike Keenan) will be the team's revolving door blue line turns out. This summer, the Flames swapped Roman Hamrlik, Andrei Zyuzin and Brad Stuart for Adrian Aucoin, Cory Sarich and Anders Eriksson through various trades and signings. We'll just have to wait and see how things pan out for the Flames.

You Again? Booooooring: Ottawa Senators
The Senators won't have another miraculous run this season for one reason; they are old news. No one wants to see the same underdog two years in a row. That's why Mighty Ducks 2 can't hold a candle to the original Mighty Ducks, no matter how good the sequel was. Hell, you're not really even an underdog if you can reach the Finals in consecutive years. The point is; the Senators bandwagon filled up pretty fast last June, and there's no way that will happen again if they make another run this June. It's just not the cool thing to do.

The Wily Veteran: Vancouver Canucks
If you can remember back far enough, the Canucks made their own special run to the Finals before that sort of thing was popular. In the 1993-94 season, they finished 2nd in the Pacific Divsion and lost to the Rangers in the Finals in seven games. They have experience in this sort of operation, but they're too good. They finished 3rd last season in the West and are currently trying to lure Peter Forsberg to town. If that happens, they'll be too good to pick. After all, the Flames, Oilers and Senators made their runs from the 6th, 8th and 4th sports, respectively.

The Sexy Pick: Montreal Canadiens
The Habs are dying for a title. They are one of the winningest and most storied franchises in professional sports, having won 24 Stanley Cups, but haven't gotten their hands on one since 1993. The curse of Patrick Roy? Possibly.

The Habs finished 10th in the Eastern Conference last season, but were only two points removed from a playoff berth. Their only major loss is Sheldon Souray, and they've added Roman Hamrlik and Patrice Brisebois. Despite playing in a vastly improved conference, the Habs are going to be in the thick of things come playoff time. You might even say that this is their year to make an Oilers-like playoff run. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. The Habs are the one team that, historically speaking, would spoil everything and actually win the Cup if they were to make it to the Finals. They have lost in the Finals nine times, but have won 24 times. That high winning percentage makes me believe the Habs actually would come through if they found their way into the Final. They're out. They look good, but with a record like that, I can't pick them.

The Favorite: Toronto Maple Leafs
Let's face it; the Leafs are dying for a Stanley Cup. I wouldn't say things have reached Cubs like proportions, but it's getting close. 1967 might as well be 1908 to them. During the 40 years that the Leafs have gone without a Cup, the Canadiens have won 10 Cups, but I think the fans in Montreal do a good enough job reminding Toronto of that so that I don't have to.

This year won't be Toronto's year, and at the same time it will be. They still have a lot of work to do in order in win a Cup; they are not at the point of loveable losers just yet. It's pretty much a requirement that you get there before any miracles happen to you. Just ask the Boston Red Sox. There's still a whole lot of people in the hockey world who love to see them suffer, and those people will get their fill as the Leafs are my pick for the Canadian team to come up short in the Finals in June 2008.


  1. I barely made it through that article because of that beautiful example of the Red Mile. You have to put those pictures at the end for me to actually read the articles.

    And, if Edmonton gets to the Cup finals this year, I will gladly eat my hat.

  2. I'll be amazed if the fetus leads Toronto to the playoffs.

  3. you shouldn´t have posted the picture of the flames chick. I read it twice and I don´t remember anything...