In case you did not know — because why would we know in Philadelphia this year — the playoffs are starting this week. The most crucial time in the NHL season for 16 teams to battle it out against one another and for one to reach glory and to lift the Stanley Cup, eventually.
As fans of the Philadelphia Flyers this season, we are unable to experience the joys of winning games and the more common heartbreak of your team getting knocked out, but there is always the option to hitch your fandom to at least one team at this time of year and enjoy their ride.
But who should we do that for? We don’t all need to pick the same team, of course, but let’s lay out the reasons why you should and could cheer for any of the 16 teams.
Well, this is certainly the most obvious answer. Our captain Claude Giroux is shining bright in his new home and has joined a red-hot offense that will run over just about any defense the opposing coach throws at them. They do not care about defense, and have very little to do about goaltending — former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky, by the way — so this is going to be the most chaotic team to face and they will just simply never be out of it. Get ready to ride your motorcycle off a cliff, because these Cats are probably going to overtime a whole lot.
That seems fun.
As a divisional rival in these playoffs, the Capitals seem like an easy option to be casual about. Obviously, they’re facing the Panthers and with a lackluster defense themselves, they might be the team that most agree on has the biggest sweep potential. We suppose you can cheer for more Alex Ovechkin goals, or look at how damn old there are. And if you really want to pick apart the roster to look for Philadelphian ties, James van Riemsdyk’s brother Trevor is there.
We are used to supreme sports disappointment around these parts, so cheering on a team from Toronto seems like the most familiar choice. This series against the Lightning is approaching must-watch territory regardless, and it will either be seeing greatness with loads of Auston Matthews goals, or a car crash that leaves one blue-and-white team tumbling down the freeway.
If you want to be lame and cheer for the reigning champions, then whatever, do it. It would be ultimately cool to see a three-peat, but that is really the only reason to want the Lightning to win other than a typical deserving team, loaded with stars, going all the way. They also have Philadelphia great Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on the team.
We will try to not be biased since a former blogger on this very website is now calling the shots for this team, but the Hurricanes will take another whack at the old post-season can as one of the Very Good, But Boring teams. There are plenty of entertaining players on this team, but since they were crowned as dark-horse contenders a few years ago, they’ve just been sort of there. They’re fun to watch, and no one would blame you for thinking they will end up as the champions.
The Bruins are (probably) the best defensive team in the sport and have some supremely talented players at the top of their lineup. They can be mean and score lots of goals at the same time. And considering that they are making their way through the Metropolitan Division, if they can get past Carolina, they might just fall ass backwards into the Stanley Cup Final. It’s the whole chip-on-the-shoulder thing in Boston right now.
Haha, no. Unless you absolutely love Justin Braun.
The team that everyone assumes will be champions soon is probably the safest option in terms of success to cheer for. Yes, they have not made it out of the second round in their current form, but they also are in a conference where they don’t have such a tough task ahead of them. Colorado is going to stomp all over the Predators, so at least you will have a wonderful time for four games.
Just don’t even bother, unless you are obsessed with Cinderella stories and always choose the underdog. They are without their goaltender — more than half of the reason why they’re here in the first place — and are up against a team that competed for the President’s Trophy. Maybe you can cheer on Nashville if you just want it for the content and getting a single win over Colorado would be hilarious.
This is not your standard Wild team that you barely even remember exist. With Kirill Kaprizov in-hand, Minnesota has become an increasingly exciting team to watch — and is chaotic as hell. They broke franchise records all season long, are carrying the pressure of an incoming cap crunch this summer, and generally, the vibes are excellent with this squad. All season long, the Wild have come back from multi-goal deficits, forced overtime, and eventually won in a crowd-jumping, ecstatic sort of way. If this continues into the post-season, there is going to be so much drama with this team.
Ryan Hartman and Cam Talbot are your former Flyers on the roster, and they are playing integral parts to this team, if you like that aspect.
The Blues are a gutsy team and are just hanging around, keeping their current core together, promoting their drafted prospects, and just having a steady climb into the playoffs. They are playing off of the back of an incredible campaign from young netminder Ville Husso, and overcoming some defensive discrepancies to score loads of goals on not a whole lot of shots. Craig Berube’s team, if you will.
If you have any Canadian sympathy and want to not cheer with the metropolitan city folk in Toronto, then the Flames are a perfect bet. You get your stupid, dumb, and fun guy with Matthew Tkachuk, and if they end up winning it all, maybe Johnny Gaudreau will want to take it easy and play the rest of his days for the team he truly loves.
The Stars play an incredibly boring style of hockey, but sometimes it works. Jason Robertson is fun to cheer for, but beyond that and their bevy of two-way forwards, there is not a whole lot that is intriguing. I guess Michael Raffl is there now?
Do you like really fast skaters? Do you absolutely loathe defense? Do you want to see some media members go bananas? Well, boy, you better pay attention to the Edmonton Oilers. You know the drill. They will either have a decently successful season by winning a round or two, or crash and burn and Ken Holland is going to throw everything away and sign the biggest dude that is shaped like a bulldozer available.
The Kings aren’t supposed to be here. This is their playoff appearance before they really intend to compete, but they can honestly pose a significant threat for the Oilers. If you enjoy watching young players blossom under the spotlight of the post-season, or still try to remember the remnants of their short-lived dynasty, maybe you can watch Los Angeles.
Pick one! Or don’t, and enjoy the break.