Ranking the Playoff Chances for Canada's NHL Teams

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Ranking the Playoff Chances for Canada's NHL Teams
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, hockey fans north of the border started fretting over a previously unimaginable possibility. Could the 2016 playoffs begin in April without a single Canadian team challenging for the Stanley Cup?

If the postseason started on Jan. 25, that's exactly what we'd be seeing. The freefall of the Montreal Canadiens has left them on the outside of the Eastern Conference race, while the Vancouver Canucks were knocked back to also-ran status on Saturday after a late-game collapse against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

According to Dan Rosen of NHL.com, it has been 46 years since no Canadian teams appeared in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the spring of 1970, eight of 12 teams qualified for postseason action, but the Montreal Canadiens lost the East Division tiebreaker with the New York Rangers, pushing them into fifth place in the division, while the Toronto Maple Leafs finished sixth.

Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins won the 1970 Stanley Cup, then the roster of Canada's teams grew when the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres joined the NHL to start the 1970-71 season. Today, Canada's seven teams make up 23.3 percent of the NHL's membership.

Here's a look at each of those teams' chances of working its way into a playoff position by the end of the season—and what moves the also-rans might make if they fall far enough out of the race.

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