There may not be any Canadian teams left in the National Hockey League playoffs after the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs all bowed out in the first round, but there are still a few reasons for local fans to pay attention to the post-season.
Three players with ties to Surrey remain in contention for the Stanley Cup as the second round of playoffs moves forward – former Surrey Eagles Danton Heinen and Devon Toews, as well as Surrey native Brenden Dillon.
Heinen – who played for the Eagles in 2013/14 – is currently a key part of the Boston Bruins’ playoff drive. The Bruins eliminated the Maple Leafs in seven games, and are now in the middle of a second-round matchup against the surprising Columbus Blue Jackets, who swept the top-ranked Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.
Of late, Heinen – a native of Langley – has been playing on Boston’s top forward line, alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. He has one goal and three assists in eight playoff games so far.
Toews, 25, is part of the New York Islanders’ blue-line that is tasked in this second round with slowing down the Carolina Hurricanes.
The two clubs open their best-of-seven series tonight (Friday) in New York.
Toews, an Abbotsford native, played two seasons with the Eagles, from 2011-2013, before leaving for the NCAA’s Quinnipiac University. He was drafted by the Isles in 2014 and made his NHL debut this season.
In four playoff games so far, he has two assists.
Dillon, meanwhile, is a member of the San Jose Sharks, who are fresh off a Game 7 comeback victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.
The 28-year-old defenceman, whose family lives in the Newton area, has played in seven games for the Sharks this post-season, tallying one assist.
The Sharks open their second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche tonight (Friday).
Dillon is one of three Sharks from the Metro Vancouver area, joining Vancouver’s Evander Kane and North Vancouver-born goaltender Martin Jones.