Your Call: How many Canadian teams will make the playoffs? Staff

1/30/2012 2:51:32 PM

With the NHL All-Star break in the rearview and teams looking ahead to the playoff push there are currently just two Canadian teams occupying playoff spots.

The Vancouver Canucks currently sit second in the West while the Ottawa Senators are holding down the sixth spot in the East.

The Canucks look to be a lock for the post-season and are just three points back of Detroit for first place in the Western Conference.  At the other end of the spectrum in the West, the Edmonton Oilers sit second to last and would need a miraculous turnaround to qualify.

It's with the other five teams where things get murky.

Ottawa is currently five points clear of both Florida and New Jersey who sit seventh and eighth. Their hold on sixth is tenuous at best though as they have played four more games than both the Panthers and Devils.

The other four Canadian teams are currently on the outside looking in, but are all within shouting distance of eighth in their conference.

So, come season's end how many of the Canadian teams will make the playoffs this season?

Ottawa has outperformed most pundits expectations this season. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Senators, but led by their All-Star quartet of Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek they have found success.

With 30 games remaining on their schedule the question for them is whether or not they can keep up the pace as the regular season winds down.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the closest Canadian team to the playoffs on the outside looking in at ninth in the East. They're actually tied in points with the Panthers and Devils but have played an additional game.

The Leafs came out of the gate flying this season and feature two of the league's top point scorers in Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel. The team has leveled off after their hot start though and have slowly slipping down the Eastern conference standings.

One of the areas they will need to address to get themselves into a playoff spot is their penalty kill, which sits last in the NHL at just 75.0%. It will be interesting to see whether they make their push with their current lineup or whether Brian Burke swings a deal before the trade deadline.

Right behind the Maple Leafs in 10th place in the East are the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets are a tale of two teams this season - the Home Jets and the Away Jets.

In front of their fans in Winnipeg, the Jets are a solid 15-8-2. On the road, they are a woeful 7-14-4. If they are going to make a serious shot at the post-season they will have to find a way to pick up some points away from the friendly confines of the MTS Centre.

And last but not least in the East, especially in terms of playoff expectations, are the Montreal Canadiens who find themselves in 11th place with 47 points on the year.

For all the turmoil in Montreal this year, it's almost surprising the Canadiens are as close to a playoff berth as they are. The team completely fumbled out of the gate, losing their first three games on home ice for the first time since 1938.

The slow start led to the firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn and eventually, the firing of head coach Jacques Martin. The Habs replaced Martin with Randy Cunneyworth who promptly lost his first four games amid media outrage surrounding his inability to speak French. And then there was the Mike Cammalleri fiasco.

Despite all that, the Habs remain just eight points back of the final playoff spot in the East and still have a chance to make up that ground. They should also be riding a high having just spanked the West leading Red Wings 7-2 in their final game before the All-Star break

In the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames also find themselves in 11th spot but are just three points back of a playoff spot. They also appear ready to make a push for the playoffs after acquiring the aforementioned Cammalleri from Montreal.

So we ask you, which of the Canadian teams will find their way into the playoffs come season's end and who will miss out on the fun? It's Your Call!