An annual celebration of every part hockey could have further implications for a lot of Canadian NHL groups this yr.

Six of the nation’s seven squads are nonetheless within the hunt for playoff spots, making every of this yr’s Hockey Day in Canada matchups a chance to gather essential factors.

This yr’s occasion relies in Swift Present, Sask., however the spotlight takes place in Montreal, the place the Canadiens host the Toronto Maple Leafs in a battle that might foreshadow a first-round playoff collection.

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Right here’s a take a look at all 4 of Saturday’s Hockey Day in Canada contests:

Winnipeg Jets (34-17-3) at Ottawa Senators (20-29-5)

Hockey Day in Canada has lengthy been an enormous deal for Senators right-winger Mark Stone.

“I nonetheless keep in mind when it was in Winnipeg and I used to be like seven or eight years previous, and my dad was one of many guys who bought to go on digicam and ask Don Cherry a query,” he stated Thursday. “I keep in mind pondering that was the best factor on this planet.”

The occasion is a chance to acknowledge an enormous a part of Canadian tradition, stated Matt Duchene, a local of Haliburton, Ont.


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“It simply makes you proud to be Canadian. I nonetheless love getting on the outside rink,” stated the Ottawa centre. “After I go house, I’ve an enormous bunch of buddies who get collectively, and we’re all the time speaking hockey and now we have an enormous group chat. It’s been very nice to have the ability to get house and luxuriate in these moments.”

Stone, Duchene and the remainder of the Sens will play the early sport on Saturday, taking up the Winnipeg Jets in Ottawa.

The Jets are coming off a troublesome 5-2 loss to the Canadiens on Thursday however nonetheless sit atop the Central Division with 71 factors.

They’ll must play a distinct sport to beat Ottawa, stated Brendan Lemieux.

“We simply must be higher. And if we clear up our sport, we are able to beat anyone. But when we’re not sharp, that is the NHL they usually’re getting paid, too. Anyone can beat us,” the Jets left-winger stated after the Montreal loss.

Ottawa is lingering on the backside of the Japanese Convention standings with simply 45 factors, however Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck stated the group shouldn’t be underestimated.

Toronto Maple Leafs (33-17-3) at Montreal Canadiens (31-18-6)

If the hockey season ended immediately, these longtime rivals would meet within the playoffs for the primary time since 1979.

Leafs coach Mike Babcock stated that is the primary time each Toronto and Montreal are excelling since he joined the franchise in 2015.

“They’re a group that’s doing nicely, we’re a group that’s doing nicely,” he stated. “We’d each wish to be larger within the standings. It’s an essential sport. They’re a great hockey membership, we’re a great hockey membership. One thing’s bought to offer.”

The Canadiens sit only a level behind the second-place Leafs within the Atlantic Division standings. Each groups are on three-game successful streaks and neither has misplaced in regulation since Jan. 20.

Going through the Leafs in Toronto can be one other “playoff-type sport,” stated Montreal centre Phillip Danault.

“We wish to hold getting factors to make the playoffs,” he stated after the Canadiens’ win over Winnipeg. “We all know it’s a extremely good group. They’re enjoying nicely, too. A number of talent. It’s all the time been an enormous battle and rivalry towards the Leafs. It’s going to be thrilling.”

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Babcock was watching the Winnipeg-Montreal sport and stated he noticed a Canadiens group that’s enjoying with good pace and a few scorching strains.

Nonetheless, the coach is assured going into Saturday’s sport.

“We’re good gamers, too,” he stated. “And we’re going to place good gamers on the ice, they usually’re going to have to fret about defending us as nicely. Ideally, we play proper and we play quick and it turns into one heck of a hockey sport.”

San Jose Sharks (32-16-7) at Edmonton Oilers (24-25-5)

The Oilers can be trying to construct some momentum after beating the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Thursday.

“We’ve bought a blueprint for fulfillment on the street and we’ve bought to take our street sport again house and never attempt to dance with different groups,” coach Ken Hitchcock stated after the victory.

“We’re constructed a sure method proper now and we’ve bought to play this method to win hockey video games. We’re doing it on the street, and I see no cause why we are able to’t take it house and, hopefully, play the identical method there.”


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Regardless of a season that may be described as patchy at finest, Edmonton continues to be within the hunt for a playoff place, sitting simply two factors out of a wild-card spot with 53 factors.

In the meantime, San Jose is coming off an enormous 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday and sits second within the Pacific Division with 71 factors.

The Sharks could be the solely American group enjoying on the Hockey Day in Canada schedule, however participating within the custom continues to be essential for at the least one Sharks participant.

“Clearly, enjoying within the U.S., we don’t get as many alternatives as you do in Canada to play on Hockey Night time in Canada. It’s one thing that I do know, as Canadians, you look ahead to and it’s simple to get excited for,” stated Vancouver native Evander Kane.

Calgary Flames (34-15-5) at Vancouver Canucks (24-24-7)

The Flames high the Pacific Division with 73 factors, however they head to Vancouver following Thursday’s robust house loss to San Jose.

“It didn’t go our method tonight, and we’ve bought an enormous stretch of video games arising, massive street journey beginning in Vancouver, so we’ve bought to shake one off and are available again able to play in Van,” Calgary centre Mark Jankowski stated after the defeat.

Expectations for the Canucks weren’t excessive coming into the season, however Vancouver stays firmly within the playoff race. The Canucks had been tied with the St. Louis Blues in factors on Friday, however the Blues held management of the Western Convention’s closing playoff spot, having performed fewer video games.

Nonetheless, the Canucks are coming off a disappointing street swing that noticed them take simply three factors from 4 video games.

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The journey additionally noticed three gamers go down with accidents. Vancouver has but to reveal what occurred to left-winger Sven Baertschi, however defenceman Alex Edler is anticipated to be out of the lineup for a couple of week with a concussion and goalie Thatcher Demko will miss about 10 days with a knee sprain.

Star rookie Elias Pettersson pressured extra time towards the Chicago Blackhawks with a late power-play aim Thursday evening, however Vancouver finally dropped a 4-Three resolution.

“We’ve simply bought to get some observe in and ensure we’re all clicking and on the identical web page and begin from scratch and simply sort of erase the previous and begin over,” Canucks right-winger Brock Boeser stated after the loss.

—With information from Darren Haynes in Calgary, Kelsey Patterson in Montreal and Lisa Wallace in Ottawa




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