Jonas Hiller and Mark Giordano try but fail to keep the puck out of Calgary's net

Jonas Hiller and Mark Giordano try but fail to keep the puck out of Calgary's net

What Canadian teams must do to make playoffs

What the six Canadian NHL teams in contention must do to make playoffs

By Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Four Canadian teams are in playoff positions at the NHL’s all-star break. The Montreal Canadiens are the lone Eastern Conference team, while the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames are in the top eight in the West.

Here’s what those teams have to do to keep the spots in the second half of the season and what the others in contention, the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, need to do to make it. The Edmonton Oilers are 20 points out of a playoff spot and are largely considered out of post-season contention.

Playoff chances are from Sports Club Stats.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Record: 29-13-3, 61 points

Place in standings: Third in Atlantic Division

Chances of making playoffs: 98.8 per cent

What they have to do: Hope Carey Price stays healthy. The all-star goaltender is Montreal’s best player, and as long as he’s on the ice and contributing, the Canadiens will be fine.

WINNIPEG JETS

Record: 26-14-8, 60 points

Place in standings: First Western Conference wild card

Chances of making playoffs: 92.4 per cent

What they have to do: Don’t let up and the first playoff game in Winnipeg for this version of the Jets awaits. This team “turned a corner,” according to defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, and a 7-2-1 stretch going into the break gave it a nice cushion.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Record: 26-16-3, 55 points

Place in standings: Third in Pacific Division

Chances of making playoffs: 92.4 per cent

What they need to do: Play better at home, according to all-star winger Radim Vrbata, talking about the Canucks’ 11-8-1 record at Rogers Arena. With 23 home games left the rest of the way, that’ll determine if Ryan Miller and Vancouver can hold on despite some inconsistency.

CALGARY FLAMES

Record: 25-19-3, 53 points

Place in standings: Second Western Conference wild card

Chances of making playoffs: 72.2 per cent

What they need to do: Beat the other teams in the hunt and “you try to avoid the losing streak,” captain Mark Giordano said. Up one point on the defending Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings and with others not far away, it’ll be a test of Bob Hartley’s young group.

OTTAWA SENATORS

Record: 19-18-9, 47 points

Place in standings: 10 points out of second Eastern Conference wild card

Chances of making playoffs: 16.7 per cent

What they need to do: Hope one of the current playoff teams falls off its current pace because erasing a 10-point deficit this late is almost impossible. Winger Bobby Ryan said the Senators need to gain a point or two the rest of this month and close the gap in February and March just to put themselves in striking distance in April.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Record: 22-23-3, 47 points

Place in standings: 10 points out of second Eastern Conference wild card

Chances of making playoffs: 4.5 per cent

What they need to do: Get on a roll fast and figure out how to play interim coach Peter Horachek’s system. Losers of six in a row, the Maple Leafs are in danger of not only a lost season but huge changes on the horizon this off-season. A run to the playoffs now looks improbable but it might affect the organization’s plans.

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