Overall, it wasn't a very good week for Canadian clubs the National Hockey League. As it stands today, Montreal and Vancouver are Canada's only hopes for the Stanley Cup to return to it's home and native land. Toronto and Calgary continue to struggle their way into a playoff spot, but they aren't doing themselves any favors by losing key matches. For now, it looks like one third of Canada's teams are going to get into the playoffs.
Montreal: Not a good week for the Habs, losing two of three to playoff hopefuls Washington (4-2) and the New York Rangers (6-3). The game against Washington appeared to be in reach until Mike Knuble potted a late 3rd period goal to pad the lead. The game against the Rangers was a gong show from the beginning, with the Rangers scoring five on Carey Price in the first period alone. The bright spot for the Habs this week was their 3-2 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Shootout wins imply a close game, which is to be expected in the late stages of the season, but when you lost your other two games on the week it doesn't look good. Luckily, as this column is being completed, Montreal holds an 8-1 lead over Minnesota. Woah.
Toronto: The Leafs didn't do themselves any favors this week by losing two of four, including a game against the Florida Panthers (4-0) that should have been a gimme. Their wins against Carolina (3-1) and Boston (5-2) were big statements saying "hey, we're not done yet!" Hopefully in the upcoming week, the Leafs can handle a hungry Minnesota team early in the week, a weak Colorado team with nothing to play for, and at least compete with the Red Wings on Saturday night. They're still in it, but it doesn't look good. Every game is a must-win.
Ottawa: The Sens are out of it but have pride to play for. They went 2-2, beating Tampa on Saturday night and driving a stake through the heart of the resurrected New Jersey Devils two night before that. Good way to end the week, considering their net was filled against Buffalo (6-4) and Pittsburgh (5-1) at the start of the week. At least they have a chance to play spoiler against Carolina and the Rangers this week.
Edmonton: A light week for Edmonton, with three games played spread out nicely. Unfortunately, it resulted in three losses, including a crushing loss to Colorado at home in a shootout. Next year is promising...so long as Khabibulin isn't in nets. 2-17-1 in his last 20, the Bulin wall is just picking up a paycheck. It's a little sickening at this point.
Calgary: Only two games in the week for Calgary as other teams caught up in games played. Both were played at home to Phoenix (4-3 Loss) and Colorado (5-2 Win). Calgary has everything it needs to push into the playoffs. Right now, stars like Jerome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff need to stay sharp and play their best as other teams play furiously. It's a heavy schedule this week with Anaheim tonight, Los Angeles Monday, San Jose Wednesday, and Edmonton on Saturday night. It's a California trip the Flames can't afford to treat like a vacation.
Vancouver: The Canucks are the toast of the league and had a 2-1 week which featured a 3-1 loss to Phoenix team that keeps winning. Their position as a division winner is clinched, but with a huge matchup against Detroit at Joe Louis Arena, they might want to wait until the weekend to start resting their stars. From this point forward, it's about maintaining momentum but protecting the team leaders.