The NHL got here to its senses a tiny bit by pushing back the Vancouver Canucks’ return to the ice, however a group that already has a minuscule probability of constructing the playoffs nonetheless might be requested to play a grueling gauntlet of a schedule to shut out the season.
It’s time to get actual and name it off. Not only for the Canucks, who nonetheless gained’t be anyplace close to full power after they face the Maple Leafs on Sunday and Tuesday, however for the complete North Division.
With COVID-19 now the worst it’s been in Canada (led by spiraling Ontario) at any level of the pandemic, a better caseload than the US, and a slow vaccine rollout because of lack of producing functionality, having groups proceed to criss-cross the nation to complete the common season is a danger that merely will not be value taking, and ending the Canadian season now would permit the league to raised put together for what actually issues in hockey, the playoffs.
Get the highest 4 Canadian groups to the US, simply because the Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays are right here now, allow them to quarantine, after which they’ll observe, play a few video games, and prepare to begin the playoffs concurrently everybody else in mid-Could.
For the sake of ease of journey and realizing that rinks might be obtainable for the playoffs, the Maple Leafs, Jets, Oilers, and Canadiens can briefly relocate to Buffalo, Columbus, Detroit, and New Jersey.
It’s true that nothing has been mathematically settled within the North Division, but it surely’s completely clear who the most effective 4 groups are. The hole between fourth-place Montreal and fifth-place Calgary is just 4 factors, however the Flames have performed three extra video games, the Canadiens have a .563-.477 edge in factors proportion, and the Habs’ objective differential is plus-9 to the Flames’ minus-12.
4 of Canada’s groups have over-.500 data and constructive objective differentials. Three are below .500 and have been outscored. Certain, in a super situation, you’d play the remainder of the season, however this isn’t a super situation.
The very best factor the NHL can do to make sure the security of everybody concerned with the league is to do the identical factor it did final 12 months: Get everybody on the safer facet of the border. Solely, now, that’s the southern facet. It’s not good — the Colorado Avalanche’s subsequent three video games are postponed because of COVID — but it surely’s the best choice obtainable.
And, hey, perhaps the Maple Leafs in Buffalo would cancel out the group’s and metropolis’s demons… wouldn’t or not it’s one thing in the event that they lastly gained their first Stanley Cup since 1967 whereas briefly enjoying in America’s most cursed sports activities city?