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Canucks the latest to take on Canadian Stanley Cup quest

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TSN.ca Staff
5/26/2011 3:11:02 PM
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The Ottawa Senators couldn't get it done.

The same for both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers.  Even the Vancouver Canucks themselves failed in their first attempt. 

They will, however, get a second chance to become the first Canadian team since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 to bring Lord Stanley's mug back North of the border.

Henrik Sedin will attempt to succeed where Trevor Linden, Jarome Iginla, Jason Smith and Daniel Alfredsson came up short before him and earn the right to be handed the Cup by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

But in order to succeed in the very near future, it might be helpful to take a look at the stories of the past.

In 1994, the Canucks entered the playoffs as the No. 7 seed and immediately got themselves in trouble. In the opening round they fell behind the Calgary Flames three games to one before storming back to win Games 5 and 6 in overtime and a thrilling Game 7 in double overtime.

They would follow that up by dispatching the Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs with ease in five games each before facing off with the New York Rangers.

The Rangers, led by Mark Messier (fresh off his guaranteed victory over the Devils) and fighting their own demons of history, knocked off the Canucks in seven games - despite Linden's two goal performance in the deciding game.

Canucks forward Cliff Ronning admitted years after the series was over in an interview with the team's official site, that Linden played most of the final with serious injuries.

"You don't know this, but Trevor Linden had cracked ribs and torn rib cartilage for the last four games of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final," Ronning told the Canucks' site. "You can't imagine what it's like to hear your captain, in a room down the hall, screaming at the top of his lungs as they injected the needle into his rib cage. Knowing him, he probably thought we couldn't hear. He would then walk into our dressing room like nothing had happened. That was inspirational."

A Canadian team didn't advance to the final again until 2004, when the Calgary Flames met the Tampa Bay Lightning for the championship.

The Flames charged out of the sixth position and eliminated the Canucks in a Game 7 overtime thriller after overcoming a triple overtime loss in Game 6 - with former Canuck Martin Gelinas scored the game winning goal that sent the Flames into the second round.

Calgary would beat the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks on the way to facing the Lightning for the title. 

Leading the series 3-2, the Flames attempted to close out the title in six games on home ice and according to many - may have accomplished the task.

Martin Gelinas' shot looked to have just got went the line before Lightning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin swept it out with his right pad. The apparent goal wasn't counted.

If it did, the Flames would almost certainly have won their second Stanley Cup.

"It's too bad if that was the case (the shot went in), but our mind-set now is our next game," said Iginla following the disappointing game six loss. "It really is. We haven't made it easy on ourselves any time yet."

The Flames would fall to the Lightning in the deciding Game 7 in Tampa, going home empty handed.

The Edmonton Oilers got the next crack at bringing the Cup back home to Canada a year after the NHL lockout - against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Tabbed as underdogs when the playoffs started, the eighth-seeded Oilers shocked the President's Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings in a Western Conference first round that saw all four lower-seeded teams advance.

The Oilers rode the momentum of that victory to eliminate the favoured San Jose Sharks and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on their way to a showdown in Raleigh.

But it didn't take long for disaster to strike for the Oilers, as No. 1 goaltender Dwayne Roloson suffered a season-ending knee injury in Game 1, forcing Edmonton to turn to goaltenders Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkanen.

Despite what appeared to be an obvious disadvantage, the Oilers pushed the series to seven games - much like the Canucks and Flames had done before them. But just as those teams did, the Oilers were not able to complete the task falling 3-1 in Game 7.

After the series, Markkanen who posted a 3-3 record and a 2.17 goals-against average for the playoffs, felt his team was close but just not good or lucky enough.

"It's just a matter of a few bounces and that's the difference," said Markkanen. "They were just a little bit better."

The 2006-07 season saw the fourth-seeded Ottawa Senators become the third straight Canadian team to make the final. And for their trouble, they earned a matchup with the Anaheim Ducks.

The Senators started their title chase by eliminating both the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils in five games each before winning the Eastern Conference in another five-game triumph over the Buffalo Sabres.

Unfortunately for the Senators - and unlike the previous Canadian teams that played for the Cup - the 2007 final was never in doubt as the Ducks controlled the play from start to finish, winning the championship in five games on the strength of great goaltending by Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Following the series, then-head coach Bryan Murray expressed his disappointment that some players on his team did not perform up to their potential.

"We had some guys that didn't play to what they were playing," said Murray, who aslo helped build the Ducks team that hoisted the Cup. "I think that's most disappointing and what we and they have to live with through the summer."

Senators forward Jason Spezza put the responsibility and focus on himself for his team falling short.

"I knew if I didn't play better it would be tough for us to win," he said. "It's extremely disappointing to come this far and lose."

And now, the 2010-11 edition of the Vancouver Canucks will hope to overcome recent history and host the first Stanley Cup parade in a Canadian city since the trophy took a tour of Rue Ste-Catherine in 1993.

Canucks Cup Quest – Daniel Sedin (Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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