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Brothers, David Groen, the Leafs fan in blue wig, left, and Gerry Groen, the Habs fan in the "helmet," making laps of the concourse at the ACC before the first period of the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Montreal Canadians at the ACC on Toronto on April 27, 2013.Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

It has been 20-years since a Canadian based team has lifted Lord Stanley's mug. With four Canadian teams qualifying for the postseason, fans north of the boarder are hoping the drought finally comes to an end.


Odds of winning series: 51 per cent

The Canadiens and Ottawa Senators are perhaps the most evenly matched teams in this year's NHL playoffs. But the Bell Centre is a loud, obnoxious place for opposing teams in the playoffs, and the Habs have home-ice advantage. Given the number of Montreal fans in the Ottawa region, you could argue that's true of both venues for this series.

Odds of winning Stanley Cup: 11 to 1 (

That's a wager only a severely optimistic fan could make. Montreal doesn't stack up all that well against powerhouses such as Pittsburgh and Chicago. But sports fandom is all about optimism, right?

Last time in playoffs: 2010-11

The Canadiens lost in seven games to arch-rival Boston. They really should have won the series in overtime of the final game, but captain Brian Gionta couldn't beat Tim Thomas, who made a miracle save on a 2-on-1. The less said about 2011-12, when the Habs finished last in the Eastern Conference, the better.

Last Stanley Cup win: 1993

Two decades of relative futility is not something that sits well with a fan base spoiled by 24 Cups. But they still flock to buy tickets and $10 beers, and the TV viewership numbers for Habs games are still mind-boggling.

How much for scalped tickets?

How much have you got? The face value of a first-round playoff ticket varies from $63 to $271. All the games are sold out, so assume a minimum of triple that amount. Might be easiest to budget the cost of a mortgage payment. Or drive to Ottawa.

Biggest watering hole

Montreal is a city of watering holes, several of which are within heckling distance of the Bell Centre, but only one place has a tile mosaic of the sainted Maurice (Rocket) Richard on the wall behind the bar, and that's Taverne Normand on Mont-Royal Avenue.

How to recognize a true fan

Dressed in several hundred dollars worth of Habs paraphernalia. Can usually be overheard grumbling to a similarly-attired friend about how the goalie sucks.

Fan-favourite player: Carey Price

They really, truly love the preternaturally calm, photogenic 25-year-old goaltender. Except when they hate him with a venom usually reserved for the recently divorced.

Star wattage

The Habs' most ardent celebrity fan is Hollywood actor Viggo Mortensen, who famously wore a jersey under the armour he sported for his role as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Other celebs with avowed Habs allegiances: actors William Shatner, Ethan Hawke and Jon Voight, CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos, fighter Georges St-Pierre and chef David MacMillan.

Bulbous mascot-like thing: Youppi

The former Montreal Expos baseball mascot, repurposed with a Habs jersey. For a city with this many creative minds, it verges on unacceptable.


Odds of winning series: 49 per cent

The Senators have lots of crafty veterans and maybe the best coach in the league to help guide them. Now, they just need to prevent Montreal fans from taking their rink over. Club owner Eugene Melnyk is an original thinker, however. He called in a forensics team to investigate whether an Achilles injury to star defenceman Erik Karlsson was deliberately caused, so maybe there's a cunning plan, er, afoot.

Odds of winning Stanley Cup: 28 to 1 (

The book makers are not Senators fans, evidently. But strange things can happen in Ottawa, as any political watcher will tell you, so it's probably best not to count them out entirely.

Last time in playoffs: 2011-12

The Senators very nearly upset the lordly New York Rangers, who had won the conference handily, stretching them to seven games. This is a group of players that knows its way around the postseason. Dangerous.

Last Stanley Cup win: 1927

Coincidentally, the last time the Senators hoisted the Cup, they beat the Canadiens to get there. Of course, the Sens subsequently disappeared for 65 years or so, but they've been to the big dance more recently than Montreal, having lost in the final in 2006-07. This is, understandably, still a sensitive subject.

How much for scalped tickets?

The Senators recently aired television commercials in a bid to goose their playoff ticket sales, so the scalpers may be facing inhospitable market conditions. Then again, they'll be able to soak Habs fans who can't or won't stump up the cash to see a game in Montreal. Ticket resale websites have stubs starting at $150 each for nosebleeds.

Biggest watering hole

It's axiomatic that there are no proper pubs in the suburbs, and the Sens play in Kanata. That said, there are lots of places for fans to congregate both in Scotiabank Place and environs, but the spots that bill themselves as Sens HQ are closer to downtown. The best known is probably Local Heroes sports bar, although the Senate Tavern is frequently mentioned on Sens fan sites.

How to recognize a true fan

It'll be the person sporting a Sens jersey and an inferiority complex if there are Toronto and Montreal fans in the room.

Fan-favourite player: Daniel Alfredsson

Ageless Swede, life-long Senator, pillar of the community. If he were ever moved to run for mayor, Alfredsson would set a record for most lopsided electoral victory in Canadian history.

Star wattage

There are loads of celebrity Sens fans, including former Friends star Matthew Perry. Oh, and comedian Tom Green. Um, Globe and Mail political columnist Jeffrey Simpson? Okay, maybe they don't quite have mega-watt power, but global pop icon and sex symbol Rihanna wore a Senators jersey as a dress to a stylish Hollywood nightclub earlier this year. So there.

Fuzzy mascot-like creature: Spartacat

The Sens "ambassador of fun" is a fluffy, smiling lion. Its name evokes rugged Spartan warrior, what could possibly go wrong with this combination? Plenty, apparently.


Odds of winning series: 20 per cent

Toronto has historically been pushed around by the Boston Bruins, and this season's record of 1-2-1 against Beantown did halt an eight-game losing skid, but that's hardly enough to start planning victory parties.

Odds of winning Stanley Cup: 22 to 1 (

Last time in playoffs: 2003-04Last Stanley Cup win: 1967

George (Punch) Imlach was the head coach, Lester B. Pearson was the prime minister and Leafs Nation had no idea what kind of darkness was ahead of them.

How much for scalped tickets?

$208 will get you a standing-room-only ticket to game 3 in Toronto on The cheapest ticket available for Game 1 in Boston? $84 (U.S.). Everyone who makes money off hockey knows Leafs fans will shell out, and now that their team is in the playoffs, Leafs Nation is about to get squeezed hard.

Biggest watering hole

Real Sports Bar & Grill is within throwing distance of the Air Canada Centre and has a 39-foot HD big screen and 199 HD TVs, although rival Wayne Gretzky's boasts the Great One's name recognition. But let's be honest. This is Toronto. Every bar will be stacked with Leafs fans.

How to recognize a true fan

By the measure of delusion. Just kidding, Leafs fans. This is definitely your year. Of course, it is.

Fan-favourite player: Phil Kessel

The 25-year-old winger led the team in goals and assists, and after, his 2009 trade from Boston, you know he's got something to prove.

Star wattage

Teen idol/pop singer Justin Bieber is a die-hard Leafs fan. Let's just hope his recent fortunes don't portend anything for the team's chances in the playoffs.

Furry mascot-like creature: Carlton the Bear

Large polar bear has been hanging around since 1995, sporting a cheery smile despite a lifetime without a Stanley Cup final appearance.


Odds of winning series: 50 per cent

The Canucks and San Jose Sharks both have ace goaltenders, and aging stars, whose time to make one last run for the Cup runs short. The jobs of both head coaches are on the line. You lose: you're fired.

Odds of winning Stanley Cup: 14 to 1 (

The same odds as the defending champion Los Angeles Kings.

Last time in playoffs: 2011-12

The Canucks met an ignominious end, ejected in the first round by the Kings after posting the league's best regular-season record. This season marks the Canucks' fifth consecutive Northwest Division title – with nothing to really show for it.

Last Stanley Cup win: Never

It is the root cause of the psychic malaise suffered by all long-time Canucks fans. The Canucks have made the Cup final three times, most recently choking in 2011. After leading that best-of-seven series 2-1 and 3-2, they were humiliated in Game 7 on home ice, shut out 4-0 by the Bruins. A riot ensued, to bookend the riot after the 1994 final loss to the New York Rangers.

How much for scalped tickets?

Scalped? Demand for the Canucks has sunk after playoff failings and a so-so regular season. As of midday Monday, just hit up for overpriced playoff tickets at face value. About 400 tickets, mostly above-face value, remained on The Canucks claim the longest "sellout" streak in the NHL, 430 games at the 18,910-capacity Rogers Arena. Regardless, there have been lots of empty lower-bowl seats this season, even if they might have been paid for.

Biggest watering hole

There is no one true go-to booze can. Shark Club on West Georgia Street near the arena is loved by some due to proximity. Two Parrots Perch and Grill on Granville Street gets raucous with cheap beer. Out of downtown, St Augustine's on Commercial Drive is a favourite and, farther afield, Schanks at the Starlight Casino in New Westminster is another packed house with its 120 TV screens.

How to recognize a true fan

Sports a Harold Snepsts jersey (possibly game-worn). Can tell the Sedin twins apart. Believes, deep down, the hockey gods angrily conspire against their team. Insists the rioters in expensive Canucks jerseys in 2011 are not "real" fans. Considers Trevor Linden a personal hero.

Fan-favourite player: Cory Schneider

In a city known as a goalie graveyard, the current fashion is to love backup-turned-starter Schneider, made to be the latest anointed saviour, replacing the last such man, who went from exalted hero to bum (Roberto Luongo).

Star wattage

Sixty-watt bulbs, maybe. Actor Pamela Anderson, local girl made good, was spotted a number of times in the early season, when she may or may not have been dating one of the defencemen.

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