For the 13th year in a year in a row, well excluding the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, CBC will host the daylong broadcast, which features all seven Canadian teams in action beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
As a part of the now annual tradition, a different Canadian city plays host to the event and Don Cherry and Ron MacLean perform their broadcast from that location. Nearly every province in Canada has held the event over the years from British Columbia (2007) to Newfoundland (2006) and even the territories, Nunavut (2003) and Yukon (2011) and this year, Peterborough, Ont., will play host.
Here are the stories surrounding each of the eight teams getting set to take part in today’s action.
There may not be two other teams in the NHL that represent youth vs. experience better than the Edmonton Oilers and the Detroit Red Wings.
The Oilers are a product of the rebuilding process. While they haven’t had any playoff success since their run to the Stanley Cup final in 2006, the organization has been able to acquire high-calibre assets through the draft in Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and is now trying to build around those pieces in order to turn a team of young stars into a playoff contender.
Detroit on the other hand may be headed in the opposite direction. While it’s hard to imagine Red Wings general manager Ken Holland going through an extensive rebuild with a franchise that’s been so consistently successful over the last two decades, Holland is going to need to find a way to bring in young assets capable of eventually replacing the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, both of whom are in their 30’s.
Now in their second season back in Winnipeg the Jets are still very much a team searching for their identity. They’ve lost four of their last five games and so far this season they’ve been a team that can’t seem to get consistent goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec and they haven’t been able to counteract that weakness with enough offence. While they’ve gotten some good production from the likes of Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane the team’s lack of secondary scoring is shining through. Yes, it’s only 10 games into the season, but if things don’t start to click the Jets will once again be a team that flirts with a playoff spot only to find themselves outside of the post-season picture at the end of the season.
The Ottawa Senators were one of the biggest surprises of the 2011-2012 season and they’re out to a hot start once again this season thanks to an impeccable start for Craig Anderson. The 31-year-old goaltender is 6-2-2 and is clinging to a 1.49 goals against average and .950 save percentage. The Senators are currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and their early-season success has come without star centre Jason Spezza who is likely out for the rest of the season due to a back injury.
Phil Kessel finally broke the goose egg scoring his first goal of the season in the Leafs 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Kessel has been known to be a streaky scorer and with the Leafs sitting at 6-5, a Kessel goal-scoring streak might be exactly what the team needs to maintain its seventh-place spot in the Eastern Conference. Kessel has played three-plus seasons with the Leafs and while they’ve failed to make the playoffs in each of those years there is a correlation between their most talented player scoring and the team winning. Kessel has scored in 83 games as a Leaf and Toronto is 52-23-8 in those contests. In other words if Kessel scores the Leafs chances of winning sky rockets.
Montreal has been another big surprise to start the season. Led by goaltender Carey Price who has put up a 1.74 GAA and .936 SV% and the resurgence of captain Andrei Markov, the Canadiens find themselves just ahead of the Leafs in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. And it’s not just Price and Markov who’ve been strong for the Canadiens; Tomas Plekanec has 10 points and appears to have regained his scoring touch after an off year in 2011-2012, P.K. Subban is off to a quick offensive start after contract negations kept him out for the first six games of the season and rookies Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Gallagher have given Montreal fans more reason to look forward to the future.
The goaltending controversy has been the biggest story out of Vancouver to start the season. While Cory Schneider was pegged as the team’s starting goalie prior to the beginning of the 2013 season, Roberto Luongo has not gone down without a fight forcing Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault to play both goalies equally. And either fortunately or unfortunately for Vancouver, Luongo’s numbers thus far have been notably better than Schneider’s. While the saga will likely end with Luongo being shipped out of Vancouver he’s giving his goaltending counterpart a run for his money.
In Calgary, Miikka Kiprusoff struggled at the start of the season and is now out with an injury, Jarome Iginla has one goal in eight games and the Flames currently sit in 12th place in the Western Conference. Simply put, this team needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.