For the first time since 1996, there won’t be a single Canadian team in the second round of the playoffs. Or to put it another way, there are the same number of Canadian teams still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup as Mexican teams. (Mexico: also very disappointed.)
It’s not a huge surprise, really. Only two of the seven Canadian clubs – the Senators and Canucks – actually qualified for the postseason. Ottawa wasn’t expected to take out the Rangers and, according to Canucks GM Mike Gillis, Vancouver had a nervous breakdown (or something) after beating Boston in January.
In some ways, though, what happened in 1996 was worse for hockey fans north of the border. That year, five of the seven Canadian teams made the playoffs, with none of them advancing past the first round.
Plus, 1996 was the Jets’ final season in Winnipeg before moving to Phoenix.
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As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).
Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.
Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.
It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.
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Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.