For the fourth straight season, the Vancouver Canucks will be spectators of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, meaning Canucks fans will have to wait until September to see their team on the ice again.
Despite there being no more Vancouver Canucks hockey for this season, there are still plenty of reasons to watch this year’s edition of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Some Canucks fans may wonder “who should I cheer for in the playoffs?” Well, if that’s you, then you’ve come to the right place! Here are my top three choices for Canucks fans to cheer for this spring.
Former players bring an aura of intrigue when it comes to playoffs. This year, the most intriguing former Canuck has to be beleaguered defenceman Erik Gudbranson. Gudbranson was exiled in Vancouver and was a constant nagging point for fans of the blue and green.
On trade deadline day he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins for journeyman forward Tanner Pearson, and he has found success in his new steel-town surroundings. “Guddy” as he goes by, will be making his third trip to the playoffs, and the former third overall pick actually now has a legitimate chance at a Stanley Cup.
While he has not undergone an offensive resurgence, Gudbranson’s defensive play has improved and he has been a welcome addition to the Penguins blueline. It’s hard to imagine him dumping the puck aimlessly with such skilled forwards as the Penguins possess, but it has seemed to work so far.
He will certainly be interesting to watch as Pittsburgh look for yet another title. Also on the Pens is another former Canuck, in Jared McCann who has turned into a bit of a star this season; making Vancouver fans even more frustrated about the trade that took place a few years back. McCann was traded for Gudbranson, and now they both have a shot at hoisting the cup. Go figure…
If former players aren’t your fancy, another safe bet to cheer for are the Canadian teams. While it will certainly be hard for Canucks fans to root for a rival such as Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg or maybe Montreal; one cannot forget that it has been over 25 years since the cup has come home to the Northside of the border. So regardless of your favourite team, a true Canadian hockey fan will get behind one of these teams in hopes of seeing Lord Stanley’s mug back on Canadian soil.
The Canadian Teams
As for which Canadian team has the best shot at the cup, that’s a tough one to answer. While the Maple Leafs have been an offensive juggernaut this season, they are faced with the Bruins yet again in the first round.
It will be the third time in the Leafs last four playoff appearances that they face Boston, and Toronto will be in tough to beat a Bruins team who has also been one of the leagues better teams this season. The general consensus is that this series will go to yet another game seven, and my bet is the Bruins will again prevail, however, it would be nice to see a Canadian team make a run.
The western Canadian teams both have legitimate chances as well and are both poised to be playing hockey for another few months. The Calgary Flames have been a surprise this year, although goaltending may be their downfall. The Winnipeg Jets enter this year’s postseason with hopes of building off a decent run in 2018. The Montreal Canadiens will only sneak in to the playoffs if they do qualify, and my bet is they will be hitting the golf course fairly quickly even if they do sneak in.
If I were to rank the Canadian teams by best shot at the cup it would go Calgary with the best chance, Winnipeg second, Toronto third and the Canadiens fourth. It will certainly be hard for Canucks fans to side with any of these teams, but it would be very nice to see a Canadian team bring the cup back home.
The third option, however, is to cheer for the teams that are least likely to win it all. If the Canucks were in the playoffs this year, they would certainly fall under this category. They may very well fall into this category the next time they make the playoffs — which is hopefully next year.
But hey, maybe 2019 is the Columbus Blue Jackets’ cup year! Who knows, but maybe it’s time for an underdog team to win the cup. If the Carolina Hurricanes were to make a run, who wouldn’t want to see the Stanley Cup storm surge? I am sure that would be something special to witness if they did decide to bring it back at some point in the postseason. Maybe even the Colorado Avalanche are worth rooting for this year.
This season represents the fourth straight year in which the Canucks will miss the playoffs, leaving Canucks fans yearning for the old glory days — which are just around the corner. They will come soon enough, maybe even as early as next season with the emergence of the team’s young stars.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the hockey that is played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs because it’s exciting, played at a high level, and always has some rather intriguing storylines embedded in it.