Question to the Fans…

Calling all hockey fans,

Question. If your team misses the playoffs or is eliminated at ANY point does that mean that YOU stop being fan or supporting YOUR team? NO. Yes, the Canucks were eliminated but so were 11 other teams that qualified while still 14 more didn’t play in the post-season.

If you asked fans of the teams who missed the playoffs if that meant their loyalties to their team were broken you would hear a resounding NO. Just because a team is eliminated early or does not qualify for the playoffs does NOT mean a real hockey fan stops supporting their team. We support the team year after year ALL year long.

All of the following teams were either eliminated in the first two rounds or did not qualify for the playoffs:

Sure Edmonton has not made the playoffs in years BUT they have a TON of young talent that will make them deep moving forward barring any injuries to their core players.

Yes Philadelphia had a disaster year of ups and downs particularly with their goal-tending scenario and the endless question marks surrounding Chris Pronger’s future. They have a talented line up that will come back stronger next season.

Yes Carolina had a disappointing finish after a year when they re-united the Staal brother but with the all the injuries that hit them this last year consistency was impossible. Next year a healthy Cam Ward, along with the Staals and Semin could be a lethal combination should the Hurricanes be post-season bound.

No, the Winnipeg Jets did not punch their playoff ticket this season BUT they came very close in the final stretch. They have an excellent fan base and a team that can cause trouble when they play at the top of their game. When the Jets do return the playoff mix it will be a very exciting time for that fan base!

Toronto made it to the playoffs for the first time in NINE years! Heck of a comeback to being down 3-1 in the series to Boston only to force a game 7 which unfortunately ended in an OT heart-breaker. Toronto did a lot of things this year but most importantly Coach Carlyle got the team to play with heart and believe that they could be good enough. Toronto will build off their playoff appearance and up the ante when they meet Detroit in the 2014 Winter Classic.

The New York Islanders were a dark horse that a lot people did not expect this year. Nabokov stabilized the goal-tending that had been questionable for years. The Islanders were led by their young core, particularly by John Tavares down the stretch in which he nearly kept pace with Ovechkin in the Rocket Race. The Islanders made the post-season for the first time in 6 years and played some great hockey against the top seeded Penguins.

It may have taken a while for big money makers Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to settle in BUT they made their presence felt in Minnesota by years end. The Minnesota Wild came very close to missing the post season BUT they snuck in at the wire. They may have only lasted 5 games against the heavy weighted Chicago BUT despite the series loss they had some great moments such Josh Harding playing in a surprise starting twist.

The Washington Capitals perhaps lost their steam in games 6 & 7 of the first round BUT they sure had a heck of run down the stretch. Remember in the first half of the year when it looked like they wouldn’t crack the top 8 and Ovechkin looked invisible? Cue the comeback where they were dominant in the second half, Ovechkin re-emerged helping the Caps win their division and snagged the Rocket while he was at it.

One of the biggest disappointments was probably the Tampa Bay Lightning who started out the year with a ton of potential going 6-0-1 only then to tailspin completely finishing near the bottom of the league despite Steven Stamkos scoring numerous goals and Martin St.Louis winning the Art Ross Trophy. I have not doubts the fans will be back cheering for the Lightning when they return to the ice

The Florida Panthers failed to build upon the success they had last year as they got bit by the injury bug. Despite their disappointing season they have some young prospects that showed signs of great talent…particularly young goalie Jacob Markstrom.

The Calgary Flames season went from bad to worse as the year went on and eventually threw them into the rebuild phase mid-season. They lost their franchise leading player when former captain Jarome Iginla was traded to Pittsburgh for an opportunity for a long playoff run. The traded away a few more pieces of the team in order to gain draft picks to further their rebuild quest.

The Columbus Blue Jackets were probably the biggest surprise in the west as they proved everyone wrong. Previously playing Columbus was not really a challenge and most people expected the same since they lost former captain Rick Nash to the Rangers BUT they were wrong. The Blue Jackets were a pesky team this season that played one of their most complete seasons and made a very bold move at the deadline in acquiring Marian Gaborik. In the regular season they beat the Detroit Red Wings all BUT one time. They went on a tear in the final stretch of the season with Gaborik in their line-up. They were ONE point shy of making the playoffs.

The St.Louis Blues had a decent season and started the playoffs with a 2-0 lead on the reigning champion LA Kings in round 1. It was re-match for these two teams who met last year albeit in round 2. Unfortunately for St.Louis the Kings re-awakened when the series returned to LA and took over the series.

The Nashville Predators did not have the same success they had last year as this season they were riddled by injuries and inconsistent play from all their players.

The Detroit Red Wings had a mixed fruit basket of ups and downs this year BUT when it counted they pushed the DRIVE button and put on a show down the stretch to the playoffs. They fought back against a top tiered team of Anaheim in the first round earning a game 7 victory. They put the Blackhawks on the brink of elimination BUT as Chicago has been the best team in the league they pushed back and forced a game 7 vs. Detroit. CUE the OT…..and despite the loss Detroit exceeded most people’s expectations as they endured their first season with veteran Niklas Lidstrom. Detroit showed that they are still a team that can contend in the playoffs despite any mid-season woes.

Ottawa was plagued by injuries that should have knocked them out of the playoff race BUT they slotted young players in their place and found unique ways to win. Despite the loss of Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza, coach MacLean never counted his team out and if anyone has anything to say it should be that HE deserves the Jack Adams this year!

Montreal had a major comeback this season as a powerhouse team atop the Eastern Conference under the guidance of their new coach Michel Therrien. They had success in the regular season when they played their game to their strengths. Despite a first round upset, Montreal has a lot of upside going into next season.

Phoenix was all over the map this season with their play and the uncertainty of their franchise remaining in Glendale. The season began with the Shane Doan sweepstakes that never took off as he remained with the Coyotes and ended with the team missing the playoffs failing to build upon their success of the reaching the 3rd round last year. Their future remains uncertain heading into next year with changes bound to happen.

Colorado was a let down this year which was mostly due to untimely injuries and the late re-signing of O-Reilly in mid-season. Despite their disappointing outing this year they were able to do something that no other team was able to…they ENDED Chicago’s unbeatable in regulation streak. They may not have had the outcome they had hoped for BUT they did show at times the team they can be when all the pieces are available and healthy. Next season will be very interesting with former player Patrick Roy as their head coach.

Anaheim did not quite have the streak or success of Chicago BUT they did put an impressive record solidifying themselves as the 2nd best team in the West this season. They got the opportunity to face Detroit in the first round and unfortunately for them the Red Wings showed more resilience than perhaps they expected in forcing a game 7 and stealing the victory for Detroit. The first round exit was probably not what they hoped for but they can build on that experience next season. Most of their current roster will be around next year and if they keep their current goalie tandem you never know what this talented line up may be capable of next season!

The New York Rangers endured many changes this season to their roster including the acquiring of RIck Nash, Ryane Clowe, Derek Dorsett, Derek Brassard and the trading away of Marian Gaborik. The Rangers put up a fight in a 7 game first round duel with the Capitals but they could not find the same resolve when it came to the Bruins.

The Buffalo Sabres started the season with a lot of potential as their big names were putting up points and looked to be in mid-season form. Unfortunately for Buffalo things quickly fell apart and they stopped winning games in any fashion costing LONG time coach Lindy Ruff his job. Ryan Miller took the brunt of the blame for many losses despite the team’s inability to score goals.

The New Jersey Devils came off a season where they were 2 wins shy of winning the Stanley Cup. Injuries to Kovalchuk and Brodeur along with a 9 game losing streak prevented the Devils from getting the chance to change the ending to that story. People keep asking when Brodeur will retire BUT he probably wants a better ending to his career than losing a Stanley Cup Final or missing the playoffs and he deserves to end his career HOWEVER he chooses. New Jersey will be in a tight spot when Brodeur does retire and leaves a gaping hole in their line-up.

Dallas where do I start? They initially won the Jaromir Jagr sweepstakes ONLY to trade him to Boston when it was apparent they would yet again miss the playoffs. Dallas looked good on paper before the season began but like so many others due to various injuries they could not find the right formula.

San Jose had a very up and down season BUT they seemed to find their way down the stretch and in the first two rounds of the playoffs. They earned their victory in round one and battled hard for a game 7 in the second round against the Kings.

Vancouver as we all know had an up and down season. Unfortunately we all know what happened in the first round….it was not pretty. The ending was not perhaps what the fans hoped for BUT in order to win series it is paramount that when you get stellar goal-tending[LOU in games 1&2] you need to give your goalie some goal support. A second straight year with a first round exit cost Coach Alain Vigneault his post. It will interesting to see how the next Canuck coach interacts with the team, media and the fans of Vancouver. Time will tell.

26 teams are officially in the off-season as the Final Four battle for a spot in the Conference Final. Just because these teams are no longer in the hunt does NOT mean that their fan bases are no longer supporting them. Real fans support their team ALL year long not just when things go well.

So to recap: yes my Canucks[& 25 other teams!] are out of the playoffs but I support my team all year round regardless of the outcome. I ask again, if your team is eliminated or misses the playoffs, do YOU stop supporting YOUR team? Perhaps if you are on the bandwagon then your answer would be YES, but this kid will never stop supporting her Canucks!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L. #canucknation #heartofacanuck #ourteamourway

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