Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

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    Who will be 'Canada's Team' in the quest for Stanley this year?

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    Total Votes: 12
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    davetherave
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    Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by davetherave on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:13 pm

    Lyle (Spectors Hockey) Richardson shares his thoughts. Always, and sometimes, mercilessly, to the point...

    Your thoughts/predictions?

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    Who Will Be Canada’s Team?
    Written by Lyle Richardson
    Wednesday, 01 April 2009 09:09
    http://www.spectorshockey.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=35&Itemid=57

    www.spectorshockey.net

    It’s been 16 years since a Canadian team last won the Stanley Cup and looking at the status of the NHL’s six Canadian franchises it doesn’t appear the drought will be ending this season.

    Forget about the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.

    The Leafs,once self-proclaimed “Canada’s Team”, has been anything over the past four seasons, missing the playoffs in every season since the NHL returned to action from the season-killing lockout of 2004-05.

    As for the Senators, Stanley Cup finalists in 2007, they stumbled throughout this season and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06.

    This season is the much-hyped 100th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens, but it’s

    been memorable for all the wrong reasons.

    Rumors of players partying too much or associating with shady characters off-ice, stories of dissension in the dressing room, declining performances by key players, a coaching change and talk of the club going up for sale have only accentuated the Canadiens struggles in the second half of this season.

    After going into the All-Star break fourth overall in the Eastern Conference the Habs now found themselves barely clinging to the final playoff berth.

    Even if they somehow manage to hang on and make the playoffs only their most fanatical fans harbor any delusions of them challenging for the Cup this season.

    Over in the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers are stumbling down the stretch, battling with several teams for one of the final playoff berths.

    Given the depth of talent on the Oilers their inconsistency this season has been maddening leading more than a few folks to suggest head coach Craig MacTavish is the culprit and should be replaced, a call only further heightened by a costly bench minor during a recent Oilers-Anaheim Ducks game which appeared to seal the Oilers fate this season.

    No word or hint that MacTavish's job is on the line but if the Oilers fail to make the playoffs this season it’ll make the third straight season they didn’t make the cut which is going to lead to plenty of discontent in Oiler Country and possible changes in the off-season.

    Even if they do make the playoffs it’s highly unlikely this year’s bunch can repeat the heroics of the 2006 underdog version which also barely made the playoffs but marched all the way to Game Seven of that year’s Stanley Cup Final.

    The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks are currently battling for first in the Northwest Division, the winner of which will finish third overall in the Conference standings and gain home ice advantage during the playoffs.

    Calgary was considered a shoo-in to hold that berth given their notable moves at the trade deadline (acquiring Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold) but of late the Flames have struggled and recently lost their grip on the division lead, leading to dark mutterings from the Flames faithful that the club is choking once again heading into the playoffs.

    If that’s the case it doesn’t sound promising for the Flames, who if they fall beyond fourth overall could face a tough challenge from the Canucks, San Jose Sharks or Detroit Red Wings, the latter two having dispatched the Flames in the first round of the playoffs over the past two years.

    The Canucks meanwhile have on a roll over the past month, and as of this writing have won eight of their last ten games to challenge the Flames for the division crown.

    With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season if the Canucks can continue their hot play they should end up winning the Northwest, but questions remain as to just how well they’ll do once the playoffs begin.

    In Roberto Luongo they’ve got an all-world netminder, who was outstanding in his first-ever playoff appearance two years ago. He’s been terrific since returning from an early season injury.

    Still, he’s only seen two rounds of NHL playoff action in his career and it remains to be seen if he can handle the increased pressure should the Canucks advance beyond the second round this season.

    A lack of offensive depth hurt the Canucks in their last playoff appearance two years ago but that hasn’t been a significant problem this season thanks to the additions of Mats Sundin and Pavol Demitra and the improvement of young Canucks Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows.

    However, the Sedin twins – the Canucks leading offensive players over the past three years – will face expectations to elevate their games in this year’s playoffs, something they’ve been accused of not doing in the past.

    The Canucks have been reasonably healthy heading into this year’s playoffs but there will be worries that the injury bug could rise again to bite oft-injured players like Demitra and defensemen Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo.

    There’s also questions over how well they’ll do should they end up squaring off with the Sharks or Red Wings, both of whom are considered by most experts to be the favorites to win the Conference and advance to the Final.

    Of course there are so many variables and uncertainties that arise during the course of the playoffs. As the old adage goes, anything can happen once the playoffs start.

    In looking at the six Canadian franchises, the Vancouver Canucks appear to have the best chance of “bringing Stanley home’, but I'm not holding out hope of seeing any Canadian franchise in this year's Cup Final.
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by PTFlea on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:19 pm

    Calgary or Vancouver for me. Both powerful from the net out.

    What a horrific mistake made by MacT last night with Selanne's stick. Horrific.
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by Cap'n Clutch on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:22 pm

    Way to stay on the fence there Heater. I had to choose between those two and went with Vancouver because of the Bobby Lou Factor coupled with the addition of Sundin and Demitra. I think they have the best shot personally. Also the Flames are going in Cold while the Nucks are going in Hot.


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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by PTFlea on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:24 pm

    Okay, I'll go with the Nucks as well then. Smile
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by wprager on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:31 pm

    Definitely Calgary, there can be absolutely no doubt. Here are the top three reasons why (in no particular order):

    1. Mats Sundin
    - How can you cheer for him if you hate the Leafs? How can you cheer for him if you *are* a Leafs afan?
    2. Iginla
    - Captain Canda as far as I am concerned.
    3. Red Mile
    - Nuff said.
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by PTFlea on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:34 pm

    wprager wrote:Definitely Calgary, there can be absolutely no doubt. Here are the top three reasons why (in no particular order):

    1. Mats Sundin
    - How can you cheer for him if you hate the Leafs? How can you cheer for him if you *are* a Leafs afan?
    2. Iginla
    - Captain Canda as far as I am concerned.
    3. Red Mile
    - Nuff said.

    I never really hated Sundin to be honest. He was pretty classy - plus he and Alfie were killers for Sweden.

    How about Luongo vs Kipper? Nuff said? cool)
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by wprager on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:52 pm

    504Heater wrote:
    wprager wrote:Definitely Calgary, there can be absolutely no doubt. Here are the top three reasons why (in no particular order):

    1. Mats Sundin
    - How can you cheer for him if you hate the Leafs? How can you cheer for him if you *are* a Leafs afan?
    2. Iginla
    - Captain Canda as far as I am concerned.
    3. Red Mile
    - Nuff said.

    I never really hated Sundin to be honest. He was pretty classy - plus he and Alfie were killers for Sweden.

    How about Luongo vs Kipper? Nuff said? cool)

    What's wrong with Kipper? If it's because he's not Canadian then we'd all better root for the Devils, then.
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by PTFlea on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:54 pm

    wprager wrote:What's wrong with Kipper? If it's because he's not Canadian then we'd all better root for the Devils, then.

    Nothing wrong with him. I've always thought he was a glorified Gerber though, letting in back-breaking goals, but he should be fine. However, you can't argue that Luongo's a (much) better goaltender than Kipper...
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by PTFlea on Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:59 pm

    To quote Prager (out of context) what MacT did last night was a 'special kind of stupid'. Game, set and match, you guys are diddled.
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by davetherave on Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:04 pm

    The VanNucks are lookin' mighty good...but if they face the Jackets IMHO all bets are off.

    REGULAR SEASON SERIES
    Blue Jackets win 3-1

    Oct 21: at Blue Jackets 4, Canucks 2
    Dec 1: at Blue Jackets 3, Canucks 2
    Jan 18: Blue Jackets 6 at Canucks 5 (SO)
    Mar 1: at Canucks 3, Blue Jackets 1

    The Flames haven't exactly been hot against their current matchup either...

    REGULAR SEASON SERIES
    Blackhawks lead 4-0

    Nov 9: at Blackhawks 6, Flames 1
    Dec 19: Blackhawks 3 at Flames 2 (OT)
    Jan 4: at Blackhawks 5, Flames 2
    Feb 5: Blackhawks 5 at Flames 2

    Hard to say at this point...
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by LeCaptain on Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:21 pm

    Vancouver... Stnaley cup finals man.
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by davetherave on Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:27 pm

    marakh wrote:Vancouver... Stnaley cup finals man.

    So you have them winning all three preliminary rounds...wow. That's confidence. Wink
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by wprager on Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:31 pm

    504Heater wrote:
    wprager wrote:What's wrong with Kipper? If it's because he's not Canadian then we'd all better root for the Devils, then.

    Nothing wrong with him. I've always thought he was a glorified Gerber though, letting in back-breaking goals, but he should be fine. However, you can't argue that Luongo's a (much) better goaltender than Kipper...

    Question was (paraphrasing) what team should Canadians cheer for. That doesn't necessarily mean the team that's most likely to win. Right? I mean we're (mostly) pretty much united in our Habs Hate?

    Smile
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by wprager on Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:32 pm

    I just want to see the Red Mile again.
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    Re: Who Will Be 'Canada’s Team' competing for Stanley in '09?

    Post by LeCaptain on Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:34 pm

    davetherave wrote:
    marakh wrote:Vancouver... Stnaley cup finals man.

    So you have them winning all three preliminary rounds...wow. That's confidence. Wink

    One of the best and most consistents teams since all star break.
    It is usually how it works IMO:
    Amazing two lines, good veteran player, elite goalie, young guns stepping up big time...
    THe recipe is there.

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