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It appears it's almost time for our other national anthem again.

Woe Canada. Or the alternatively titled Oh No Canada.

The battle is not over. The Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens are still alive in the second round of the NHL playoffs, although they're each down two games to none against deeper, more talented teams from the U.S. sunbelt.

But even the most wide-eyed optimists have to realize it's unlikely the Stanley Cup will be coming back to this country this spring.

In fact, Canada's 21-year drought could turn 22 as soon as Friday, if the losses keep piling up.

Then comes the national hand-wringing over the NHL's top trophy being paraded around south of the border each June.

The cold reality is that the odds were heavily against the Canadian franchises when the season started. Last fall, oddsmakers forecast only two Canadian teams would make the playoffs, and gave only the Canadiens a realistic chance of winning it all, largely because they have a great equalizer in netminder Carey Price.

The six other Canadian franchises are in various stages of reconstruction and retooling, with executives promising better days ahead as they try to upgrade their rosters through drafting and developing talent. Edmonton and Toronto have been singing that song for a while.

But, as a group, these teams are hardly in a hopeless situation. There have been four close calls in the past 10 postseasons, with the Flames, Oilers, Senators and Canucks all making the finals between 2004 and 2011.

Three of those series went to Game 7, putting them one win from ending the drought. So there's been some tough puck luck involved.

Most of the Canadian teams outperformed expectations this year. The Flames surprised everyone in the hockey world by making the quarter-finals for only the second time in 25 years. The Senators, down and out at the season's halfway point, went on a Cinderella run to knock Boston out of the playoff race. And the upstart Jets claimed their first postseason berth since their rebirth four years ago.

Even the Canucks, an older group in transition, found a way back to the postseason after a disastrous season in 2013-14.

But it's taken a while for these positive storylines to emerge. Other than the Oilers' continued bungling of their considerable talent, the Canadian teams' focus on getting younger and building through the draft is a new trend, one they missed out on in the early days under the salary cap.

One big reason U.S. franchises such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington have been better than Canada's teams for a sustained stretch is that they scooped up most of the elite talent over a key period of time, parlaying a few seasons of losing into a few more of winning.

The opposite was happening in Canada. In the 10 years after Vancouver drafted the Sedin twins at second and third overall in 1999, the then-six Canadian teams had only three of the 50 top-five draft picks between 2000 and 2009: Jason Spezza (Ottawa), Price (Montreal) and Luke Schenn (Toronto). That meant missing out on almost every superstar talent of that generation of players, a group that included Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Drew Doughty, Steven Stamkos and John Tavares.

Under the league's cap rules, all of the above were cost-controlled at a low salary in their first three years in the league, a period during which the Penguins and Blackhawks won championships (2009 and '10).

The U.S. teams' losing-in-order-to-win rebuilding often paid off. Canadian teams' win-now mentality generally didn't, leaving them mired in mediocrity, without high picks or a high-end roster.

The cruel part was that the one Canadian team that finally did pursue a high-pick strategy – Edmonton – missed out on the true elite talent.

Some of the Canadian woes were due to mismanagement, and all of the front-office firings and hirings over the years back that up. Edmonton and Toronto are still in the midst of messy purges and restructuring.

There's stability and competence in places such as Montreal, Calgary and Winnipeg, giving those franchises two of the main ingredients needed for success in the modern NHL.

So while Canada's Cup drought is almost certainly going to hit 22 years this spring, there's legitimate reason to believe it will end in the next decade.

With all of these teams' inherent advantages – financial and otherwise – it certainly should.