Who to cheer for this year: Leafs, Oilers, or Flames?

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      I realize it might be a hokey way to do hockey, but when it comes to the NHL playoffs, I always just cheer for the Canadian teams.

      I'm patriotic, I guess. I proved that to myself when Paul Henderson scored that famous goal to beat the stinkin' Russians back in '72. I was watching the game live at Chilliwack Junior High School and when he put the puck behind a sprawling Vladislav Tretiak to make Canada the winner of the Summit Series I jumped so high that my fingertips grazed the classroom ceiling. I kid you not.

      It didn't hurt that Henderson was on my favourite team at the time: the Toronto Maple Leafs. As a kid growing up watching The Original Six--Toronto, Montreal, Boston, New York, Chicago, and Detroit--I always cheered for the Leafs. Back in the sixties I idolized forwards like Dave Keon and Ronnie Ellis, and defenceman Tim Horton, the donuts guy. Not to mention goalie Terry Sawchuck. I mean, what an awesome-sounding name, Terry Sawchuck.

      Unfortunately, if I recall correctly, the Leafs were quite often beaten by the Montreal Canadiens, who I despised with a passion, simply because they often beat the Leafs.

      I never quite understood why a lot of people--especially in Vancouver--seem to hate the Leafs. Or maybe they just dislike the city of Toronto in general. I realize the Leafs haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1967, but they won it ten times before that. How many times have the Canucks won it?

      The Leafs are currently up 3 games to 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the cup the last two years, beating the Habs last year and the Dallas Stars the year before that. I wouldn't bet the farm that the Leafs will knock the Lightning out of the playoffs tonight, but I'll be cheering that they do. Go Leafs!

      Speaking of the Dallas Stars, it was great to watch the Calgary Flames beat them last night, to go up 3 games to 2 in that best-of-seven. Ya gotta like that feisty little Gaudreau guy. Go Flames!

      As for the other Canadian team striving to sip champagne from Lord Stanley's mug, the Edmonton Oilers face elimination by the L.A. Kings tonight. But you don't want to write off Connor McDavid, who's been called the best player in the game lately (piss off Ovechkin, ya Putin-lover). Go Oilers!

      Clearly, my overall knowledge of the ins and outs of the National Hockey League leaves much to be desired, but as far as stats go, I do know that a Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadians, featuring Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Roy, took it in 1993.

      All I can say to that is: 

      Go Canada!

      The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight (May 12) at 4:30 pm Pacific time; the Edmonton Oilers play the L.A. Kings tonight at 7 pm.