With the Stanley Cup Playoffs just around the corner – barring any more problems with COVID-19 – the intensity within the North Division has been picking up with every passing week. And it all came to a head on Thursday and Saturday, when the Jets and Maple Leafs locked horns during a chaotic two game set in Winnipeg.
Over the course of two Leafs victories, the results were secondary to the controversies and headline crafting. Alex Galchenyuk putting his shoulder into Adam Lowry. Pierre-Luc Dubois running Jack Campbell. Rasmus Sandin taking down Blake Wheeler, who’d just returned to the lineup after missing six games due to a concussion. And the age old beef between Joe Thornton and Nikolaj Ehlers (by which I mean Joe Thornton’s NHL career being the same age as Nikolaj Ehlers).
While Winnipeg and Toronto might not have scored any new fans with their weekend antics, they did underscore the animosity that playing the same six teams can create. And more importantly, how hotly contested any postseason series between these seven Canadian teams will be.
Even as the playoff picture gets clearer in the three American divisions, the North is a complete free-for-all. A number of enticing postseason matchups are still possible, like Canadiens/Leafs, Oilers/Jets, or even one featuring the Canucks or Flames, who’ve both begun closing in on the fourth-seeded Habs.
With the exception of Toronto’s 20 point lead on the fifth place Flames, which three will book their tickets to the big dance behind them is still anybody’s guess. But if the Leafs and Jets were a preview of the heated hockey required to get there, fans might want to have their favourite tea on hand.
1) Vancouver Canucks ⬆️ 2
How… on earth… are we STILL in the playoff race?!
2) Edmonton Oilers ⬇️ 1
Are we crazy, or is everyone waiting for the bottom to fall out on us again?
3) Ottawa Senators ⬆️ 5
Don’t lie, we’re your ACTUAL favourite team this season.
4) Calgary Flames ⬆️ 7
Thank god we’ve only got one more game this season against our biggest demon, *checks notes* the Ottawa Senators.
5) Toronto Maple Leafs ⬆️ 6
Ah Toronto vs. Winnipeg, the bitter, vicious rivalry you never knew you needed!
6) Winnipeg Jets ⬇️ 3
Heyyyy Paul? If the MVP doesn’t want to come out of the net, you leave him there!
7) Montreal Canadiens ⬇️ 4
Turns out Carey Price was masking a lot of our issues on defense. Who knew?
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