C’est fini! The 2014-15 NHL season is finally over, and there is so much anticipation for five of seven Canadian teams this spring. While the Leafs and Oilers bottomed out in the league, and gained a probable top five draft pick, the other five Canadian teams pulled off an unlikely visit to the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Vancouver Canucks were a great surprise after a forgettable 2013-14 season. Their failure to make it to the playoffs saw a change in management, which saw a young core led by the veteran Sedin twins make it to the postseason. Similarly, the Calgary Flames were highly criticized for their lack of depth until they began to fend off the top teams in the league. The Flames clinched a playoff spot led by young guns Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. The Flames’ defensive core that was led by Kris Russell in the latter half of the season showed that the team was determined for an appearance to the 2015 postseason, despite the loss of their captain Mark Giordano. Both the Flames and Canucks will face off in the quarterfinals in what should be an interesting battle of two talented Western Conference teams.
Winnipeg has been waiting for so long. Since 2011, fans have been waiting patiently for the team to clinch a postseason berth, and the patience has surely paid off. The Jets have added key defenceman Tyler Myers to a strong defensive core and has seen brilliance in goaltending and goal scoring. The Jets will be a tough team for the Anaheim Ducks to face off against. They’re gritty. They have the goaltending. They can score. They will cause a great challenge for the Ducks, especially in the loudest rink in the league. The “Whiteout” will be in full charge by the Jets faithful.
Ottawa. Where do I begin? The Hamburglar has been amazing. The Senators have definitely been the Cinderella story of the season, with the team playing such a determined game in the past two months for two members of management (assistant coach and general manager) who have been diagnosed with cancer. The Sens face off against the Montreal Canadiens, a playoff matchup that almost always happens each year. The rivalry will only intensify, making the series even more interesting.
As a fan (of the Leafs) from the outside looking in, my two favourite teams are the Winnipeg Jets and the Ottawa Senators because of their incredible turnarounds. Who knows which team will win what series? Spring in Canadia will be very interesting. The best part – two Canadian teams will play in the Conference Semi-Finals!