Wed 07/03/2018 - 13:16 EST

As Playoff Races Tighten, Canadian NHL Teams Push Forward Through March

As Playoff Races Tighten, Canadian NHL Teams Push Forward Through March

Can Calgary Take Advantage Of A Soft Schedule?

While I did mention that the majority of Canadian NHL teams have already established themselves as likely being playoff bound or not, the lone outlier in that equation are the Calgary Flames. As of the morning of March 7th, the Flames sit in 11th place in the Western Conference, three points out of a playoff spot with 15 games remaining. Thankfully for Flames, fans, the upcoming stretch Calgary has is a spot where plenty of points in the standings could be had.

Calgary as Buffalo, Ottawa, NY Islanders and Edmonton on tap for their next four games and none of those teams are likely going to make the playoffs. Buffalo and Ottawa have been bottom-feeders in the league for the bulk of the season, and if the Flames can pile up points in the standings during this stretch their playoff prospects will be better off for it. The rest of Calgary's season is decidedly tougher, so it's now or never for the Flames it seems.

Will Toronto Snap This Slump Soon?

Toronto is one of the two Canadian teams that should see playoff action in the spring, but if they continue dropping games like they have, it will be another very tough 1st round matchup once again for the Leafs. Toronto enters the weekend on a four-game losing streak, and they host the defending champs from Pittsburgh on Saturday night. That's not exactly the opponent I'd want to face when looking to snap a losing skid, but the Leafs better find some answers soon. After Pittsburgh, Toronto's schedule really doesn't get a whole lot easier the rest of the way.

Yes, there are some very winnable games mixed in with two games remaining against Montreal and Buffalo, along with a few other softies, but the Leafs still have games against two of the best from the West in Winnipeg and Nashville, and they've still got one more trip to Tampa to face the Lightning. The Leafs should be able to turn things around, but depending on their odds each night, backing Toronto on the ML against quality foes and fading them against weaker ones may be a generic strategy to take going forward. 

Will The Worst Canadian Franchise Be Ottawa Or Vancouver?

It's been a rough year for the rest of the Canadian NHL teams (outside of Winnipeg and ones previously mentioned) and now it's important to keep an eye on the race for last place, at least in terms of Canadian clubs. The Ottawa Senators currently hold that distinction with 56 points, but Vancouver isn't too far behind at 59, and even Edmonton (60) and Montreal (61) have plenty of stake in the race. But when it comes down to it, it probably will end up being one of the two teams mentioned in the title as advanced stats and the eye test would lead you to believe.

With their fates sealed as lottery-bound clubs, Vancouver and Ottawa should be teams bettors should be fading more often than not over the next few weeks. Vancouver is a -145 home favourite on Wednesday with Arizona in town and on pure numbers alone I'm not sure how you can't take a piece of the Coyotes. 

Ottawa has quite a few tough games ahead of them, but it's their home game against Calgary on Friday that sets up to be a prime fade candidate for the Senators. Clagary will be looking to avenge a 6-0 loss earlier to Ottawa this season and given how the season has went for the two clubs since then, I like the Flames chances of getting the job done.

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