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3 Native NHLers Vying for Stanley Cup Glory

Native Goalie Hoping To Lead Montreal To Playoff Glory
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Carey Price already has a lengthy list of accomplishments.

And now the 27-year-old, a member of British Columbia's Ulkatcho First Nation, is hoping to lead the Montreal Canadiens to glory in the National Hockey League playoffs, which begin today.

Price and his teammates will face off against the Ottawa Senators, in an opening best-of-seven Eastern Conference series. The first two matches are scheduled for tonight and Friday in Montreal.

Many hockey experts believe Price, arguably the top goaltender in the world right now, will backstop the Canadiens to a rather lengthy post-season. A club needs to win four playoff rounds to capture the Stanley Cup, annually awarded to the NHL's playoff champions.

Price, who also led Canada to the gold medal in the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, appears primed for a successful post-season. The eight-year pro shone during the 2014-15 regular season.

Associated Press

Carey Price

Price registered career highs this season for wins (44) and shutouts (nine) and for the first time in his pro career also had a goals-against average below 2.00 (1.96).

Based on his regular season performances there's a chance Price might not only be selected as the league's top goalie but as the NHL's most valuable player as well.

Price, however, is not the only Native who will be involved in the NHL playoffs.

RELATED:Ted Nolan Out As Buffalo Sabres’ Head Coach

T.J. Oshie, an Ojibwe forward, is a member of the St. Louis Blues. The Blues will battle the Minnesota Wild in their opening best-of-seven Western Conference series, set to begin Thursday night in St. Louis.

Oshie, who is in his seventh NHL campaign, is an integral part of the Blues' offense. He had 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) in 72 regular season contests.

Also, Michael Ferland, a 22-year-old Cree who is a rookie forward with the Calgary Flames, will get his first taste of NHL playoff action.

Calgary will square off against the Vancouver Canucks in their best-of-seven Western Conference series. Game 1 is tonight in Vancouver. Ferland split the season between the Flames and their American Hockey League affiliate Adirondack Flames. He appeared in 26 games with Calgary and contributed five points, including two goals.

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Meanwhile, several other Native players and coaches did not have their teams qualify for the NHL playoffs this season.

The Los Angeles Kings, whose roster included Native forwards Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, just missed out on a post-season berth, finishing ninth in the Western Conference standings. The top eight finishers in the league's two conferences advanced to the playoffs.

Both King (Metis) and Nolan (Ojibwe/Maliseet) experienced their share of success in recent years as the Kings who the Stanley Cup in 2012 and also last year.

Associated Press

Michael Ferland

King ended up with 26 points in 81 games this season while Nolan had nine points in 60 games.

As for Nolan's father Ted, he had a less than memorable year as the head coach with the Buffalo Sabres. His club ended up dead last in the overall standings of the 30-team league.

The elder Nolan was fired on Sunday, the day after the NHL regular season concluded. It was also announced that Bryan Trottier (Metis), who was an assistant coach with the Sabres, would not have his contract renewed.

Buffalo's roster this season included Cody McCormick, a 31-year-old Chippewa forward. McCormick only appeared in 31 games this year. A blood clot discovered in his leg in January forced him to miss the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, the two other Native coaches in the league did not have their teams qualify for the playoffs either. Craig Berube, who is Cree, served as the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. And Rocky Thompson, who is also Cree, was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers.

Other Native players whose teams did not advance to the playoffs were Vern Fiddler, Kyle Chipchura, Rene Bourque and Jordin Tootoo.

Fiddler, a 34-year-old Metis forward, scored a career high 13 goals in 80 games with the Dallas Stars.

Chipchura, a 29-year-old Metis forward, had 14 points with the Arizona Coyotes.

As for Bourque, he bounced around this season, playing for three different clubs. He started the season with Montreal. He was then traded to the Anaheim Ducks before ending the year with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Bourque, a 33-year-old Metis, had his season end in late March as he underwent back surgery. He appeared in a total of 51 games this year and earned 14 points.

Tootoo, a 32-year-old who is the first Inuk to play in the NHL, contributed 10 goals and five assists in 68 games for the New Jersey Devils.