Which Canadian teams have a real shot at the playoffs?

HC at Noon chat on the mystery in Montreal, with the crew wondering if the Canadiens’ organization needs to make a major trade to shake things up and get back on track.

It was awesome last spring.

Calgary versus Vancouver. Ottawa against Montreal. Winnipeg, hosting its first playoff series (vs. Anaheim) since coming home to Manitoba.

After having only one of Canada’s seven teams in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs (Montreal), now we had five teams — and a guarantee that two would advance to Round 2. We at Rogers considered it a gift from the Hockey Gods, in our first year of a 12-year NHL TV deal.

It was going to be like this from now on, right!?! Right…?

So what happened, Hockey Gods?

If the 2016 playoffs began today, there would be one Canadian team in the 16-team tournament – the fading Canadiens. With 50 points, Montreal is in the final wildcard position in the East, tied with Ottawa, with everyone else’s playoff hopes somewhere between dead and faint.

In the West, the weak Pacific Division provides life support for Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. But really, would you put the kids’ college fund on any of those clubs hosting a postseason game this spring? Winnipeg is four points back with games in hand — so I’m telling you they’ve got a chance. But it’s thin.

Here’s a look at Canada’s chances at a spring with playoff games. Or, on the other hand, your chances of having the best lawn you’ve had in years:

Montreal Canadiens
OK, it’s no scoop that the Canadiens are a better team with Carey Price in net than without. But they’re not THIS bad without Price, are they? The Canadiens have gone 6-15-2 since Nov. 25 (the last time Price suited up) and have plummeted from the top of the East to a tie with the Senators for the last wildcard spot.

Montreal hasn’t had an inordinate amount of injuries other than Price, but the issue becomes putting together a winning streak in front of two backup goalies in Mike Condon and Ben Scrivens.

Prediction: This team is too good to miss, so we’ll label the Habs — PLAYOFFS.

Ottawa Senators
The Senators have mastered the art of hanging around, even if it took a 21-3-3 surge to make the playoff cut by three points last spring. But this edition of the Senators has the NHL’s third worst goals-against per game (2.98), and a collective .911 saves percentage (18th best).

Last year’s run was once-in-a-lifetime stuff. The Sens will need steadier goaltending and a more consistent defensive effort, because in a 3-2 league, allowing three goals per night gets you nowhere.

Prediction: MISS PLAYOFFS.

Toronto Maple Leafs
No one expected a playoff team in Toronto this season, and that sentiment will be rewarded. The Leafs are better than most thought they’d be, but the 82-game season relentlessly exposes a weak team’s flaws, and the Leafs are looking more and more like the draft lottery team they figured to be.

Prediction: MISS PLAYOFFS.

Winnipeg Jets
The Jets are coming on, though their GAA (2.80) isn’t much better than Ottawa or Edmonton. That’s an issue, as is a February stretch when the Jets play eight of 10 on the road — with the two home games being one-game pit stops. That’s like a 10-game roadie, and it could well define the Jets’ postseason chances.

The Jets are four points back with four teams to overtake — and that’s only to grab the last spot in the Pacific and face the Los Angeles Kings in Round 1.

Prediction: It’s a tall order, but, in Connor Hellebuyck we trust — PLAYOFFS.

Calgary Flames
Sorry, but it is impossible to predict playoffs for a team that is dead last in power-play (13.9%), penalty kill (74.3%) and team save percentage (.896). Calgary defied the numbers last season to a great degree, and went two rounds deep. They may make it again this season, but if the Flames do, call me wrong.

Prediction: MISS PLAYOFFS.

Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton was the longest shot out west to make the postseason back in October, and today they lead the league in man games lost to injury. With the return of Connor McDavid and top defenceman Oscar Klefbom on the horizon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins blocked a shot with his hand on Monday and is headed home for X-rays. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks, according to head coach Todd McLellan.

Prediction: Look, a top team could be crippled by the amount of injuries Edmonton has suffered. A bottom team with little depth simply can not survive it — MISS PLAYOFFS.

Vancouver Canucks
Well, this is it, Canucks fans. Henrik Sedin was sent home from the current road trip with what looks like it could be a serious shoulder injury. He’s out until after the All-Star Game — at best. Brandon Sutter is due back soon, but he’s been out since Nov. 5 and will be rusty.

Somehow, the Canucks have been collecting points of late without exactly being dominant. But they don’t ask how, they ask how many, right? When Henrik is out you lose, what, 40 per cent of Daniel too? So the question becomes: If Henrik is on injured reserve for any stretch, can Vancouver beat out two of San Jose, Arizona and Anaheim to secure the third playoff spot in the Pacific?

I’d feel better if any of us had ever seen the Canucks operate for a long stretch without the inordinately healthy Henrik. If he’s back after the break, the Canucks have a prayer.

Prediction: If that shoulder keeps Henrik out of the lineup past about Feb. 15 — MISS PLAYOFFS.

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