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Canada’s Stanley Cup Hopes Leisure on Leafs, Flames, Oilers

This is a rule that spring involves Canada unevenly, a couple of delicate days adopted through a foot of snow adopted through rain adopted through an afternoon so scorching you possibly can swear it was once summer season, typically adopted through sleet and extra snow. At the day I used to be born in April my mom wanted a heavy iciness coat on how one can the medical institution, and by the point I had arrived within the afternoon it was once scorching sufficient to visit the seashore.

One thing else happened that very same spring, however in contrast to the unpredictable climate, it has now not came about since. In Might 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs received their 13th — and final — Stanley Cup. Round this time every yr, town of Toronto will get slightly twitchy. Now and again the Raptors supply a distraction — however now not this yr. They’re down 3 video games towards the 76ers.

The N.H.L. playoffs start Might 2, and as of this writing, the image appears to be like like this.

Canadian lovers these days have 3 rooting possible choices: the Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. The Vancouver Canucks would possibly make it. The Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets is not going to.

If the playoffs began as of late, the Oilers would face the Los Angeles Kings; the Flames would play the Nashville Predators; and the Maple Leafs would play the Tampa Bay Lightning, winner of the last two Stanley Cups.

That doesn’t sound hopeful. However the Leafs were playing just right instances, in large part as a result of the American heart Auston Matthews, who has put together his best season yet. The Flames have Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. The Oilers function Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

In hockey, it’s most enjoyable to apply the celebs, particularly throughout the playoffs. However megastar avid gamers have now not all the time ensured playoff good fortune. The Maple Leafs haven’t received a championship in 55 years — they usually haven’t even received a playoff around since 2004.

McDavid, for all his otherworldly ability, has received just a unmarried playoff collection (in 2017) and, except a first-round loss in 2021, the Oilers have neglected the playoffs in each and every different season since dropping within the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.

The Calgary Flames haven’t received a playoff collection since 2015.

Cue essentially the most repeated and moped-upon truth round this time of yr: The Stanley Cup has now not been received through a Canadian workforce since Montreal did so in 1993. It’s all slightly grim.

Hockey is a regional pastime. The province of Alberta will divide well, and rabidly, between the Oilers and Flames, however Toronto items an issue for the ones outdoor its sprawling borders. The Leafs, just like the New York Yankees, are simple to like and simple to detest, relying in your postal code and generational loyalties.

One answer is to pick out a workforce primarily based in the US with an implausible Canadian participant, a workforce just like the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sidney Crosby, in his seventeenth season with the workforce that drafted him first general in 2005 because the league emerged from a lockout and a canceled 2004-05 season, has quietly been having probably the most absolute best seasons within the N.H.L.

I spent Crosby’s rookie yr in Pittsburgh to apply a child saddled with striking the salary-cap technology of hockey at the map. His workforce received best 22 video games, however he led the Penguins with 102 facets. Greatness was once now not distant. Crosby received his first Stanley Cup in 2009, and two extra in 2016 and 2017. Packed between championships were a large number of Hart, Conn Smythe, Artwork Ross and Rocket Richard trophies. On Feb. 15, Crosby scored his 500th career goal, turning into best the second one energetic participant to succeed in the mark and the forty sixth in N.H.L. historical past.

A couple of days later, I noticed him in Toronto when the Penguins performed the Leafs. It was once our first long dialog since his rookie season. Now 34, he was once comfy and reflective, and enthusiastic about the workforce’s playoff possibilities.

“I’ve a perfect appreciation for having the ability to play so long as I’ve,” he stated. “It’s a privilege. Don’t get me unsuitable, I wish to play so much longer, however the extra you play the extra you remember the fact that it’s now not simple.”

But he nonetheless makes it look easy. Crosby, with 29 objectives (9 of them recreation winners) and 52 assists via 65 video games, is having a outstanding season — with out fanfare, which has all long past Alex Ovechkin’s means as he climbs the career goals list.

Crosby, whose 1.25 points-per-game moderate edges Ovechkin, continues to turn out his longevity in a recreation that takes an out of this world bodily toll. He stays the most productive 200-foot participant within the recreation, and one in all its maximum ingenious playmakers.

Forward of the playoffs, I will be able to have a lot more from my dialog with Crosby, and perception into what has made him such a long-lasting and dominant participant 17 seasons into his profession.

The New York Occasions will supply protection of the N.H.L. playoffs, with an early center of attention at the Rangers-Penguins collection (as the present matchup stands) within the Japanese Convention.

In case you are on the lookout for a bandwagon except for the Flames, Oilers and Maple Leafs, it might be smart to by no means guess towards Crosby.

I requested him what milestone is subsequent. “A Stanley Cup,” he stated.

This week’s Trans Canada segment was once compiled through Vjosa Isai.

A local of Ancaster, Ontario, Shawna Richer lives in Toronto and is an assistant sports activities editor for The New York Occasions. She has spent greater than 25 years as a sports activities journalist in Canada and is the creator of “The Child: A Season With Sidney Crosby and the New N.H.L.” Practice her on Twitter at @richershawna.

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