Facing Off is a weekly column debating five of hockey’s hottest topics each and every Monday. From current events like trades and hat tricks to bigger-picture stuff like scandals and expansion — you name it, we’re debating it. Albeit, not always with a serious tone. We’re keeping this column light, so keep that in mind when reading, and feel free to join in on the fun by leaving a comment. Follow us on Twitter (@FacingOff_THW) and get in on the debate there too.
The Battle of Alberta will have to wait until the second round, though that could just as easily become a Battle of California.
The Battle of Ontario can’t come to fruition until the Eastern Conference final now, and that would go against all the odds.
The Battle of the Francophones — between Montreal and Ottawa — might be the most realistic possibility for an all-Canadian matchup in the postseason, but the Canadiens and Senators will be in tough too despite both having home-ice advantage in their initial series.
— NHL (@NHL) April 10, 2017
Nevertheless, it’s nice to see five Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs after all seven missed the cut last year — for the first time since 1970, when there were only two clubs north of the border, Toronto and Montreal.
How many, if any, Canadian clubs make it out of the opening round is a matter of debate — and debate we did in Episode 10 of the Facing Off Podcast.
For the first time, I incorporated not one but two of my go-to guests: Félix Sicard, originally from Montreal, now calling California home and covering the Anaheim Ducks as THW’s lead writer for the Pacific Division champs; and Andrew Forbes, an Ontario product currently based in London and serving as lead writer for the youthful and resurgent (albeit heavy underdog) Toronto Maple Leafs. They joined yours truly — a Prairie boy from small-town Saskatchewan, four hours straight east of Edmonton, raised on the Oilers but now settled in beautiful B.C.
Together, we previewed the playoff picture and put forth our predictions — Félix focusing on the Western Conference for the first half of the show and Andrew weighing in on the Eastern Conference in the latter half (beginning at 37:30 for those wanting to skip ahead).
— MoneyPuck.com (@MoneyPuckdotcom) April 10, 2017
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 10, 2017
Spoiler alert, all three of us predicted that two Canadian teams will advance to the second round — even though Andrew technically only picked one, and I’m still tempted to pick three when my official predictions publish tomorrow morning.
For the record, Ottawa is the team I’m still hung up on — bouncing back and forth between the Senators and Bruins — but you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out who else we have making the division finals, as well as the Stanley Cup Final, and who we foresee hoisting hockey’s holy grail in 2017 . . . and 2018?!?
Whatever disappointment we may have been feeling on the final day of the regular season — when those Game 82 results prevented the battles of Alberta, Ontario and also California — has turned into enthusiasm for what’s to come over the next couple weeks and months.
Saddle up, sit back and enjoy — both the podcast and the playoffs in general!
Who won this round of Facing Off? Feel free to weigh-in with your opinions in the comments below. We will be checking in periodically to both defend and expand on our initial answers. If you want us to face-off over a topic, we’re open to suggestions as well.
Larry Fisher is a senior writer and head scout for The Hockey Writers, having been an at-large contributor for THW since August 2014. Fisher covers both the NHL and the WHL, specializing in prospects and NHL draft content, including his annual mock drafts that date back to 2012. Fisher has also been a beat writer for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets since 2008, formerly working as a sports reporter/editor for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada from 2008-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.