Hot and not
James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs
Reimer has the second-best save percentage in the league (.932), but he's having trouble in the win column. He took the loss in the Leafs' 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Florida Panthers, the ninth loss for Reimer in his past 10 starts.
Will all seven teams from Canada miss the playoffs?
@Real_ESPNLeBrun: Are we going to end up with no Canadian teams in the playoffs? That hasn't happened since 1969-70, but it is certainly a possibility this year. Five Canadian teams were in action Tuesday night and four of them lost. The free-falling Montreal Canadiens were swept in a home-and-home by he Columbus Blue Jackets; the inconsistent Senators dropped a home game to the Sabres; the Vancouver Canucks dropped a close one at home to the Nashville Predators; and the Toronto Maple Leafs were waxed in Florida by the Atlantic Division-leading Panthers. At least this was the plan for the Leafs, with coach Mike Babcock predicting more "pain" when he was hired during the offseason. But the Habs? My goodness, we've run out of ways to describe a team that's dropping out of the sky. Make it 19 losses in the past 24 games as the Canadiens enter a much-needed week off for the All-Star break. They're only three points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but it feels like 30. The Senators have weeks where they appear to be back on track, and then they drive head coach Dave Cameron crazy with poor efforts. They're a bubble team right to the end this season and it's going to be a 50/50 proposition for them. The retooling Canucks are two points behind the Arizona Coyotes for the third spot in the Pacific Division, although it's hard-charging Anaheim -- tied with Vancouver at 51 points -- that Arizona should really worry about. My money's on the Ducks. At least the Winnipeg Jets won last night, a much-needed victory over the Coyotes. It still leaves Winnipeg eight points out at the break, though, and I don't like their chances. So who makes it? Montreal? Ottawa? Vancouver? The Calgary Flames (currently eight points out of a wild-card spot)? It's not looking good for any of them, and if none make the playoffs it'll further strain the league's overall revenue and affect the salary cap.
@ESPN_Burnside: First, I can't believe you're still mentioning Winnipeg in the playoff discussion, Pierre. The Jets are cooked. Sell, sell, sell. Calgary is also done like dinner. And while I've been impressed by Vancouver's resilience, the Canucks have already played 50 games and must jump two teams to get into a Pacific playoff spot, and three to get to a wild-card spot. Sorry, that's too much. Ottawa is interesting, but where's the leadership in that room? The Sens are tied with Montreal and have four teams to pass to get into the postseason bracket. Is it possible that Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver all find a way to get it done after the break? Sure, given that the standings are so close they look like a crushed-up beer can, as Pierre likes to point out. I do love that image, but there is little to suggest any of them are capable of such a turnaround. I will not be the least bit surprised if the entire 2016 playoff tournament takes place below the 49th parallel. As I'm sure to be saying plenty between now and the end of the regular season, woe, Canada.
@ESPNJoeyMac: My mind is blown by the current status of the Canadiens. Even when Carey Price was sidelined for an extended time due to a lower-body injury, I did not think Montreal would implode this badly. General manager Marc Bergevin addressed the team's problems last week and took full responsibility for the current state of the Canadiens, and also said coach Michel Therrien would remain behind the bench for the rest of the season. Bergevin may want to reconsider that. If the Canadiens continue to falter when they return from the All-Star break, Montreal should considered a coaching change. The issue, though, is who would replace Therrien. I don't know the answer, but it seems to be the only solution to shake up things in Montreal. As for the other Canadian clubs, one team north of the border has to earn a postseason berth, right? For the health of the league, I hope it happens. I believe it will. There's plenty of hockey remaining for one or more Canadian teams to make a surge. If Montreal misses out, though, it will be an epic fail for Bergevin, Therrien and the players who started the season with nine straight wins.
@CraigCustance: I'm with Joe. I admired Bergevin's public declaration that this was all on him. "I'm the guy who provides the players, I'm the guy who put this team together," he said during his press conference. "If it doesn't work, it's my fault." He also has the security of a contract extension signed in November that takes him through 2021-22, so it makes shouldering the blame a little bit more palatable. During a time in which firing the coach is too often the cop-out, I liked his public support for Therrien. But losing back-to-back games to Columbus made me reconsider. Maybe it's only fair to give Therrien an opportunity to turn things around when Price returns, but it might be too late by then. If I'm Bergevin, I see how the team performs after the All-Star breather, and if there's no change in the level of play I'm doing something, anything. A trade or a coaching change or something else. Because as Pierre noted, they're the only realistic Canadian playoff hope and a team that is simply too good to miss the postseason.
Around the league
The Boston Bruins lost 6-2 to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, and also lost backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who was removed from the game after the first period and taken to the hospital for treatment for an undisclosed illness.