CANADIAN PLAYOFF BERTHS – KEY DEFENSEMEN

The time for Canadian NHL teams to push for the playoffs has come! The 2013-14 season saw only one Canadian team contend in the playoffs, but they are not alone this year. Four Canadian NHL teams are also seeking a playoff berth alongside the Canadiens. A number of key defensemen for each of the surging playoff teams need to continue with a strong effort to the final stretch of the season:

Montreal Canadiens – P.K. Subban

P. K. Subban is classified as the Canadiens’ best defenseman, and has his name popping up for Norris Trophy nominations. The Olympic and World Junior gold-medalist knows what it means to play in adversity in his trips to the playoffs in recent years with the Canadiens. Subban is a leader on and off the ice, with his offensive production of 49 points and his reliability defensively seen with his +10 rating. The Canadiens might clinch the playoffs in a matter of games, and when the playoffs begin, Pernell Karl will most definitely shine.

Vancouver Canucks – Chris Tanev

Chris Tanev might be considered as the dark horse of the Vancouver Canucks because of his right handed shot. With the absence of one of their top right-handed defenseman Kevin Bieksa, Tanev needs to continue his strong play being paired with Alexander Edler. It has been two years since the Canucks were in the playoff picture, and with the leadership from an experienced young player in Chris Tanev, the Canucks can likely surprise critics in their final 16 games.

Winnipeg Jets – Tyler Myers

Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres, Tyler Myers is probably the best player from the blockbuster trade that saw left-winger Evander Kane shipped to the Sabres. Myers has picked up his game offensively, scoring nine points in 11 games with the Jets. As a top defenseman, Myers adds an offensive punch to the Jets game (especially in wake of Dustin Byfuglien’s injury) in the push for the franchise’s first-ever playoff berth.

Calgary Flames – Kris Russell

With the absence of their captain and top point-producer Mark Giordano, Kris Russell has stepped up his offensive production. Russell has scored eight points in his past four games, with three assists in Calgary’s 6-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Just as the Flames have surprised critics about their success, Russell is just another reason why the Flames might squeeze into the playoffs.

Ottawa Senators – Erik Karlsson

Although the Senators’ playoff chances might be grim, Erik Karlsson continues to play his effective role. The captain and top defenseman of the Senators currently has a team-leading 50 points in 65 games. The Senators do need to play better in front of Craig Anderson and the Hamburglar, but only time will tell if the team will contend in the 2015 playoffs.

A number of defensemen are stepping up in wake of their leaders’ absence due to injury. If the above defensemen continue to play effectively, their teams will likely contend in the 2015 playoffs. It has been 22 years since the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup. It has been 22 years since a Canadian NHL team has won the Stanley Cup. 2015 might not be the year for a Canadian team to win the Cup, but NHL fans have seen surprises before.

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