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Just my Take: Who to root for in the Stanley Cup playoffs when you just don’t care

John Reidy Avatar
April 22, 2016

 

Just-my-take (1)The end of the Colorado Avalanche season stumbled and fell like your drunk buddy poorly navigating an icy sidewalk after way too many drinks. At first it was fine, wobbling slightly. Then it veered sharply and as they overcorrected, they fell flat on their face. No one laughed. No one mourned. The only hope was that they could get up and the damage wasn’t too great.

But if the Avs failed you, there’s no reason to stop watching hockey. The Stanley Cup playoffs, the best playoffs in all of sports, is in full swing and even if your team is out of it, here’s a handy guide on who to root for when you just don’t care.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Bolts just eliminated the Detroit Red Wings and have moved on to the second round. Tampa has a young, exciting group of players, and if humiliating Detroit isn’t enough to swear allegiance to them, maybe this isn’t for you.

Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers

This one could be decided by Saturday with the Penguins moving on so I’ll sum it up for you: The Penguins, maligned all season because they should have been better, got their groove back in the last few weeks of the season and have been tearing teams up like Kleenex at a snot party ever since. The Rangers, a team from New York, don’t deserve nice things because they are from New York. Those are the rules.

Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues

This one may be decided on Saturday as well with the reigning Stanley Cup champs still on the ropes after a gritty 2OT win in game five. This one is a real Sophie’s Choice on for who to root for. On one hand, the Blackhawks have terrible fans who clog up the Pepsi Center while featuring Patrick Kane who may or may not have an episode of Law and Order SVU written about him in the future. On the other side, the Blues are a legitimate rival of the Avs and we’ve grown to hate them over the years in Denver. And while we like Paul Stastny, some of his teammates share characteristics of children’s book characters that live under bridges. I have to go with Chicago on this one, at least for this round.

Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators

All tied up at 2-2, this one should go the distance. Is that a good thing? Who cares? The NHL probably can’t wait until both are gone so they don’t have to worry about marketing this great game with teams more known for Disney Land, country music and white people than actual hockey. Like the Pens, the Ducks were clicking coming in, but if I had to pick a team, I’d say the one without Corey Perry on it.

Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks

Los Angeles teams, like New York teams, don’t deserve anything nice. Rife with bandwagon fans, there’s nothing to like about LA teams. The Kings have been very good over the last couple of years, but they don’t play an exciting brand of hockey and with Kobe retiring and the Rams moving in, I hope the dark shadow of losing that has settled in over the City of Angels never leaves. On the other side, I’ve always liked the Sharks logo and Brent Burns is awesome to watch. Not only for his play but his massive playoff beard he keeps year round.

Florida Panthers and New York Islanders

My New York team bias doesn’t fully extend to the Isles because they’ve been bad for so long and aren’t exalted like the Rangers are in NY.  They’ve got some good young players and should be decent for a while. Speaking of futility, the Panthers haven’t been past the quarterfinals since the Avs beat them in the finals and it too has a great group young players as well as the ageless Jaromir Jagr. Florida (in general) has suffered enough. Go Panthers.

Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild

Like the Blackhawks/Blues matchup, you wish both could lose but unfortunately, one has to advance and that’s looking like Dallas. I’ll take it even though the hellscape of Texas certainly doesn’t deserve the beautiful game of hockey and the Stars should never have won a Stanley Cup in the first place. But the real creeps here are the Wild. The Wild are well hated in Denver, mainly because the Avs can’t seem to get past them and also because the team is filled with over paid whiners. Wild fans are horrid, trash people who I’m surprised can find their way home from the arena if funnel cake isn’t involved. And when the Wild get sent packing on Friday night, I hope everyone from Minnesota gets diarrhea for a solid week. RIP Prince.

Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers

I make it my business to not root for anything or anyone from Philadelphia but I love the Flyers uniforms and Shane Gostisbehere. Still, nothing in Philly can compete with the greatest active hockey player in the NHL: Alexander Ovechkin. Ovi, a toothless Russian who looks like a late 70’s Bond villain, is otherworldly to watch and if he wins a Stanley Cup it will be a great moment for the sport. The Great Eight needs this and you deserve to see it happen.

With all that said, after the Wild and either the Blues or Blackhawks are out of the picture. We can all settle back and watch hockey unfettered. The greatest sport with the greatest tournament to determine a champion doesn’t need to have your favorite team competing to make it fun. Although it would be nice. Since I can’t root for the Avs, I’m rooting for the San Jose Sharks to meet the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup final and I am hoping the Caps, and Ovechkin, win it all.

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