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Bandwagoning for dummies

It’s us. We’re the dummies.

It’s that time of year, folks.

I’m talking playoffs. The ‘yoffs, if you will. It seems I have been talking about playoffs for far too long, and that is no one’s fault except for every single Flyers player and everyone on the coaching staff and anyone involved in the organization, from the interns to Paul Holmgren himself. Other than that, though, really no one can be blamed. I have nowhere to point fingers.

If you’re anything like me, you love the dumb sport of hockey with a fervor that feels truly unmatched. Beyond loving the Flyers, you also love the drama of it all, the intrigue, and most importantly, you want to hate things. Must the Flyers make playoffs? Is it not enough to hate things?

So, here’s your dilemma: it’s the ‘yoffs, and the Flyers have already perished. Who, then, should you be rooting for? Whose narrative is most compelling? Which team have you always hated irrationally even though they’ve done nothing to hurt you and you would do anything to see them fail? As Flyers fans, who should we be bandwagoning? That is the question. I hope to have the answer for you. Without further nonsensical ado, here is my comprehensive guide on each team in the playoffs and why you should (or absolutely should not) shift your allegiances.

Columbus Blue Jackets

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

This is an interesting choice. I’m not judging you or anything, but I am saying it’s very interesting. I often forget this team exists, which feels very natural to me, and every time I remember them, it’s like awaking from a long, peaceful slumber.

Now, perhaps I am being harsh. Okay, so they’re a division rival, so what? What have the Columbus Blue Jackets done to me personally? Why am I being such a hater?

The answer is that they have Sergei Bobrovsky, and we don’t. Once we did, and then we decided not to anymore, and now he’s like, you know, fucking Sergei Bobrovsky. I know there were a lot of people involved in this decision. The call was coming from inside the house and all that. However, those people aren’t really around anymore, and I need somewhere to direct my righteous fury.

Let’s get realistic here: the Blue Jackets have a chance of being very fun to watch. I think they tend to go a little under the radar, but they have a good amount of offensive firepower, and with Bobrovsky behind them, there’s really no way of saying precisely what their ceiling is. If you’d like to bandwagon the Columbus Blue Jackets, you have my blessing, but I’ll still be making fun of you, idiot. Really? Those guys? Shut up.

Most Handsome Boy: Seth Jones

Most Compelling Narrative: Nick Foligno and Sergei Bobrovsky doing a Stanley Cup Championship hug

Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Now this is a way more obvious choice.

It’s true that this is a bandwagon team for those of us who drive a mile under the speed limit and have never taken a risk ever in our lives. The people choosing this team think that water is spicy. They go to bed at 7pm on a Friday night after precisely one beer, and they may decide to call the police on the people having a house party down the block.

In other words, this is a safe choice. However: is there anything wrong with that? Think about it. Marinate on my words a little bit.

This has been a stellar year for the Lightning. They are the best team in the league and it isn’t even close to being close. They’re not in the Metro division, so a championship won’t feel like a cruel punch in the gut, and they are most importantly fun to watch.

I have no ill will towards the Lightning. Their uniforms are great. They’re undoubtedly stacked with talent, and it’s been great to watch. This is a great bandwagon choice. People will make fun of you for being too safe, and you can tell them to freak the eff off.

Most Handsome Boy: Tyler Johnson

Most Compelling Narrative: Seeing the sprinkles on top of a record season

EDIT: A previous version of this segment said the Lightning didn’t make playoffs last year. I’m very stupid and have no concept of the passage of time.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Absolutely not you psychopath. Shut your goddamn mouth. I’ll punch you in the face.

Most Handsome Boy:

Most Compelling Narrative: The entire team getting blasted into the Earth’s crust

New York Islanders

NHL: New York Islanders at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Haha, man, I don’t even know what to say.

I honestly think this team is deceptively bad. Oh, you want me to elaborate on that, do you? Well guess what. I have never elaborated, nor will I ever elaborate, on any opinion I’ve ever expressed in my life. If you want to know so bad, do your own research. Don’t read my words if you’re going to question my integrity, thanks.

Anyway, I don’t care about the Islanders enough to say whether they’re a fun bandwagon team or not, but I think if you want to set your hearts on them, well, who am I to stop you?

Just know I think this is a really weird decision. I don’t think you should make it.

Most Handsome Boy: Oh shit I think they might all be ugly. I’m staring at the roster right now all aghast. Mathew Barzal I guess?

Most Compelling Narrative: How This Team Managed To Win The Stanley Cup While Not Having One Single Power Play Unit

St. Louis Blues

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Are these guys good? I have no idea.

EDIT: Third in the central division? Okay.

EDIT: Oh I forgot about Brayden Schenn.

Go wild with this one. It’s definitely a sleeper pick, but if I know anything about the Flyers, it’s that there is not a single doubt that a player they traded away will very likely go onto like, the Conference Finals and score a natural hat trick in the opening frame of Game 1 or something. Godspeed.

Most Handsome Boy: Brayden Schenn, my forever boy

Most Compelling Narrative: Everyone who isn’t in the Central division remembering that this team exists

Winnipeg Jets

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Oh God I know even less about them. Why did I offer to write this article?

Okay, so, Winnipeg is a place, that is very cold, and the Jets are a team that play there, in Winnipeg where it’s cold. I’ve been told they’re good. I think they’re good? Pick them if you want to confuse me. They’re ranked second in the, uh. They’re in the Central division? I didn’t even know that.

I think this team is good. I’m trying to name the good players they have. Patrik Laine, I remember him. Blake Wheeler. Is this the team Dustin Byflugien is on?

I’m sorry. Do whatever you want. I set my sights a little high for this one.

Most Handsome Boy: Laurent Brossoit, I actually did know about him because he is very handsome

Most Compelling Narrative: It’s cold in Winnipeg I think

Dallas Stars

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This is a fine choice.

The Dallas Stars have long been high up on my list, and although I could lie and say it is because they play fun hockey (they used to, and now they do not), the real truth is that I love Tyler Seguin.

Oh, go ahead, say it. Say I’m some dumb superficial broad who bases hockey allegiances on how pretty people are. Guess what, idiot: it’s true. To further put a nail in the coffin, I think Jamie Benn is cute too. Even if he, you know.

I also think the two of them are objectively some of the best players in the league and I would cut off my left arm to have them on the Flyers. I don’t care who we’d have to give up. I really don’t.

As a Flyers fan you should bandwagon the Stars because they are pretty far removed from the east, them winning has no real affect on our psyche or existential ennui, and you get to make a lot of jokes about Jamie Benn the entire time if you’d like. Is that not worth watching Texas hockey? Come on.

Most Handsome Boy: Him (Tyler Seguin)

Most Compelling Narrative: Winning the Cup after the owner of their team called out their two best players in a very violent and very public manner

Nashville Predators

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Wayne Simmonds needs to win a Stanley Cup right now, immediately.

Most Handsome Boy: Don’t even ask me this

Most Compelling Narrative: Wayne Simmonds getting everything he deserves ever in this world

Vegas Golden Knights

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It’s kind of funny to me that the Golden Knights were all the gosh darn rage last season, and then as if they had evaporated into the fabric of our universe, everyone forget their existence. Have you heard anything about them this season? Not a whimper. Not a peep.

Now, there are a lot of reasons why this team is a fun, chaotic choice for your bandwagon team, although not quite as fun as they were last year. It would still be pretty cool to see an expansion team win the Cup in their second season. To boot, you’d get to enjoy all those fun playoff shenanigans that they get into at the home games. Nobody parties like Vegas, et cetera.

Let’s pump the brakes on this, though. I have a very good reason as to why I don’t want Vegas to win anything, and it is not at all biased:

I don’t care about underdogs, unless the underdogs are us.

What? You like an underdog narrative? Well, sure! They’re fun in movies when we have little to no stake in the outcome. They’re fun in football (when the Eagles win). They can be very enjoyable, but only if I personally have stakes in the underdog. If I don’t, I don’t care. You should lose. Shut up.

It’s also infuriating that the Golden Knights are good (kind of) and the Flyers are bad. What kind of cosmic imbalance in the universe? Someone should be held responsible. If not a malevolent deity, then someone closer to home, like Gary Bettman or something.

Most Handsome Boy: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, I mean come on

Most Compelling Narrative: Underdogs, or whatever

San Jose Sharks

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Remember that 8-2 blowout for the Flyers home opener? If the San Jose Sharks don’t win this year, that would have been for goddamn nothing. Go all the way, because if you don’t, I’ll just be even more mad about that home opener where I lost my mind and just began playing John Denver on an infinite loop.

Pick this team for your bandwagon, for our dignity as Flyers fans if nothing else.

Most Handsome Boy: Brent Burns, and I will NOT be accepting constructive criticism at this time

Most Compelling Narrative: Joe Thornton scoring four goals and, you know

Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Please think, for one second, about what life will be like if the Maple Leafs win the Cup. Imagine your Twitter mentions. Think about how happy Leafs fans will be. Do you really want that on your conscience? Do you really want to live like that?

Here’s my advice: don’t bandwagon this team. Sure, they’re fun, Auston Matthews is great, Mitch Marner is a treat to watch, yadda yadda, whatever. They’re probably enjoyable to watch. Me personally, however, I just can’t do it. I’m too tired. I’m an old soul. All I need in this world is some rest. I will not be able to rest for one moment if the Leafs win the Cup.

At this point you’re reading this article and thinking that none of this is objective in the least. Correct. Surprised? You fool.

Most Handsome Boy: Auston Matthews

Most Compelling Narrative: The Kids Are Alright

Boston Bruins

NHL: Boston Bruins at Minnesota Wild David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit, I used to have some sort of silly grudge against the Bruins. For what reason, you ask? Really absolutely none whatsoever. I just don’t think Boston sports teams should have rights. I think that’s pretty fair and most of you can agree.

However, if there’s anything I like, it’s a guy-you-love-to-hate type character, and there really is no one in this league who embodies that more than Brad Marchand.

Do you love him? Do you hate him? Do you wish that you could strangle him or do you want to give him a little bit of a kiss on the mouth area? Honestly, these are questions we should ask ourselves. I feel like I flip-flop on how I feel about that guy constantly. He is an enigma. He’s a mysterious beast.

There really isn’t much to hate about the Bruins these days. You could bandwagon them if you want, but keep in mind that if you put your support behind a Boston sports team that goes on to win a championship, there is blood on your hands, and karma will come for you if I don’t do it first.

Most Handsome Boy: Charlie Coyle

Most Compelling Narrative: Wouldn’t it be great if Boston sports teams caught a break for once?

Carolina Hurricanes

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I think this will be a popular choice for a bandwagon team. They’ve worked at their process for a long time, rarely getting results, and now it seems they are finally on their way. That’s exciting to witness, whether you’re a fan or not, and I’ve enjoyed watching the Canes do their thing for a while. It’s time they got recognition for it.

An obvious hindrance to the potential bandwagon for Flyers fans is that this is a Metro team out there succeeding in the world, when we are not. Perhaps not all of you are as bitter as I am, but I won’t believe that I am alone in feeling this way. If you’re good and you’re not us, I crave your demise.

Honestly, though, you could bandwagon this team, if it doesn’t throw you off too much that they’re so close to home. They’re another underdog choice with a chance to cause a real upset. I love a little chaos. Let’s get wild.

Most Handsome Boy: Trevor van Riemsdyk

Most Compelling Narrative: Analytics Are Good, Actually

Washington Capitals

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know about this one, guys.

This was a fun bandwagon choice when they had been so good for so long and yet failed to win. It was like rooting for a puppy trying to climb the stairs and falling back two steps every time he nearly reached the top. Then he got to the top, and now he acts like he owns the goddamn place, won’t stop peeing on all the carpets and humping your leg. That’s basically the Capitals to me. I’m glad you won the first time, but don’t get too comfortable.

Bandwagon this team because Alex Ovechkin is a force of nature—for that I will understand. For any other reason though, stay far away from these guys. They’ve had their fun. Let someone else do it now.

Most Handsome Boy: I mean I hate say it, but like, it is Tom Wilson

Most Compelling Narrative: Ovechkin deserves about one thousand championship titles

Colorado Avalanche

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Honestly, if purely for the joy of seeing the Ottawa Senators lose their minds, I would have loved to hop on the Avalanche bandwagon and see this team win the Cup and have Ottawa’s first round pick. Could you imagine what kind of brutal own that would be? It’s so delicious. I am simply vibrating with the thought. But alas, the hockey gods have forsaken us once again and given that pick to the Devils.

You should bandwagon the Avalanche, because really, why wouldn’t you? They don’t do anything to us. They’re all the way over there, just doing their thing.

Most Handsome Boy: Gabriel Landeskog

Most Compelling Narrative: Eugene Melynk will spontaneously combust

Calgary Flames

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Gaudreau is from Jersey, did you know that?

This is another sleeper choice, but man, if they managed an upset, wouldn’t that just be fun? This is a chaos pick and I’m about it.

Also Johnny Gaudreau is from Jersey.

Most Handsome Boy: Johnny Gaudreau, a future Flyer

Most Compelling Narrative: I don’t know I just want Johnny Gaudreau to be a Flyer please do it for me. I love you and I want you to come home