So You Want to Watch the NHL Playoffs

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Playoffs are here and it’s time for casual fans to drop in and pay attention, just as I do with baseball assuming the Red Sox and/or the Dodgers have made it, or maybe your team didn’t make the cut and you haven’t decided which team you’re going to root for instead. Maybe the easy route of rooting for the local team isn’t your style or maybe you’re just looking to root for the one team that will most annoy your hockey-crazed friend. Whatever your needs, I have answers.

Odds of winning the Cup are from Sports Club Stats.

16. Dallas Stars

Odds of Winning: 0.8%

Why You Should Root For Them: You like an underdog that no one expected to make the playoffs last year. After blowing up their team last year and making huge moves that involved getting their new stud Tyler Seguin from Boston, they’ve been an entirely different team. With a kind of weird logo, but we can work with that. Or maybe you just really want Boston to feel stupid for trading away the kid, which would be double insult because the Stars have former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. This is now a good excuse to show the video of Tim Thomas fighting Carey Price.

Hannah Says: Root for them if you’re rooting for Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and the whole team to defy expectations.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: I mean, they probably won’t win. They’re up against Anaheim in the first round, which actually might be a decent match-up since in two out of their three meetings this year, Dallas has won, but Anaheim is much more experienced (insert Selanne and Koivu are old jokes here). So you might get your heart broken and then have to find a new team again.

15. Detroit Red Wings

Odds of Winning: 0.5%

Why You Should Root For Them: The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs for the 23rd year in a row, this time marching through a series of injuries that made their roster even less recognizable than Calgary’s. They’re a model franchise, disciplined and talented, and very good at finding talent deep in the draft (Pavel “The Magic Man” Datsyuk was drafted 171st overall).

Alternately: You hate Chicago. You really like Swedes.

Hannah Says: Those Grand Rapids kids that make up 3/4 of the team are used to winning championships, I guess? I don’t know, I don’t want people to root for the Red Wings.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: Honestly, if the whole “drafted Pavel freaking Datsyuk 171st overall” isn’t enough to rile you up, 23 years? For real? Screw ’em. They’re the most decorated American hockey team, they’ll live.

 

14. Columbus Blue Jackets

Odds of Winning: 1.5%

Why You Should Root For Them: This is only the second time the perennial underdogs have made the playoffs since their introduction to the league in 2000, and the last time they made the playoffs was in 2009. They came tragically close last year after an incredible run, losing their spot in a tiebreaker to the Minnesota Wild in the last game of the season. They squeaked into a wild card spot this year, all without having a single “superstar” among them, former captain Rick Nash having been traded to the Rangers two years ago. Basically, there’s no chance they’ll win the Cup (although if their goaltending is awesome they might have a chance of taking the Penguins) but they’re a great story.

(Reason number 2: BOBROVSKY!!!!)

Hannah Says: Please root for them. They’ve never won a playoff game before. They need this.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: Because you’re a heartless monster.

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Also we should all want more hugs for Bob.

13. Minnesota Wild

Odds of Winning: 0.7%

Why You Should Root For Them: Once again, this is a classic underdog team that is in the playoffs ahead of schedule of their rebuild, and they’re going in this time without…any of their normal goalies. Niklas Backstrom has been out from abdominal surgery, feel-good story Josh Harding is adjusting to the treatment for his Multiple Sclerosis, and Ken Doll rookie Darcy Kuemper has been out since the beginning of April. Now they have noted space enthusiast Ilya Bryzgalov as their default and this dude, who before Friday hadn’t played an NHL game in more than four years. You have to hope they can get past this, because they have some real talent on their roster, but it’ll be hard.

Hannah Says: I guess they’re the State of Hockey. Is that a reason?

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: You read all that stuff up there about their goalie stituation, right? They’re screwed. Sorry, guys. I don’t think you’re making it past the Avalanche. Wow, talk about words I never predicted I’d say.

 

12. Philadelphia Flyers

Odds of Winning: 1.0%

Why You Should Root For Them: If you really love the color orange or if you’re from Philly. I’m pretty sure everyone else hates them. This is based entirely on anecdotal experience of having four vastly disparate hockey fans in one room and the one piece of common ground we found was that we all hate the Flyers. (On a side note, I am very biased.) Or you root for them in the first round because you want to see the bloodbath of them playing the Penguins in round 2.

Hannah Says: Don’t root for the Flyers. Do not reward GM Paul Holmgren for his bad behavior.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: You hate orange and you’re not from Philly. And you’re frightened of Scott Harnell’s beard. Remember, the sooner they’re out, the sooner this atrocity disappears:

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Playoff beards are one of the reasons I irrationally hate the Islanders, by the way.

11. Los Angeles Kings

Odds of Winning: 2.9%

Why You Should Root For Them: If you really love watching amazing goaltending and don’t mind that your team isn’t scoring all that many goals maybe, then Los Angeles is your team. They are defense first with a goalie that can stand on his head and has proven that he can take them all the way to the final. Also, if you like Marion Gaborik, who has been traded more times in the last few years than…I was trying to think of a good stocks trading joke here but I’ve got nothing. He’s been traded a lot. The point is, if you like him, he’s on the Kings now and maybe it would be nice for him to get a Cup.

Hannah Says: We should get Jonathan Quick another Cup for America.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: Their captain Dustin Brown, while he seems like a good dude off the ice, does things like take out the Sharks’ star rookie. There’s also the whole LA/Hollywood bandwagon factor which I know can be a major turn-off. Don’t worry, if you want to root for a California team, there are two more to choose from.

 

10. Montreal Canadiens

Odds of Winning: 1.1%

Why You Should Root For Them: You’re a Canadian hockey fan and are taking solace in the only Canadian team to make the playoffs. There is the added bonus of gold medal goalie Carey Price being the Canadiens’ starter. Personally, I love PK Subban as a human being and dearly want him to win things. And there’s always the possibility that if they win, Subban and Price will do their triple low five and Coach Michel Therrien’s head will explode.

Hannah Says: Canada needs this, okay?

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: You’re a Canadian hockey fan of literally any other hockey team. You’re an American. x100 if you’re a Bruins fan. You’re totally sick of the fact that Montreal keeps going, oh we’ve won 24 Stanley Cups because come on, they won nearly all of those before the NHL expansion of 1969.

I am really hoping we get a second round Bruins-Canadiens match-up though.

 

9. Chicago Blackhawks

Odds of Winning: 5.9%

Why You Should Root For Them: You shouldn’t. They won last year. They don’t need this. Am I still bitter about last year? PROBABLY.

Hannah Says: If they win, they will be the first real dynasty of the salary cap era, so that’s something, I guess.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: Okay, in fairness, there are reasons to root for them. They’re a very talented team that has a good chance of going far because they’re able to just light it up. And then there are times when they flame out spectacularly, so really this could go either way. I guess root for them if you’re interested in seeing how nasty Patrick Kane’s mullet can get and if you need to see new and exciting ways for him to embarrass himself while drunk.

 

8. New York Rangers

Odds of Winning: 3.3%

Why You Should Root For Them: Err, you…like handsome men? Actually, that’s not a bad reason. The Rangers are pretty good at the pretty boy swag thing. Of course, playoff beards mean they’ll all turn into hideous troll creatures except for goalie Henrik Lundqvist because, well, that’s just how it is with him.

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Weirdly this probably the ugliest suit I’ve ever seen him wearing.

 

On the serious side, if you’re hoping the Bruins won’t win the Eastern Conference, the Rangers might be your best hope at beating them. If Lundqvist gets in the groove, we could be seeing a goalie battle between him and Rask as the final. And we know how that worked out in Sochi.

Hannah Says: Henrik Lundqvist looks unbelievable…in goal, I mean.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: Well, because for everything I said up there, I still think the Bruins are a better team right now. The Rangers have to go through the Flyers first, and while personally I think that probably won’t be a problem, the Flyers have had a history of turning it on in the playoffs. That could spell problems for the Rangers. Also, they’re so slick and polished, you kind of want to hate them, don’t you?

 

7. San Jose Sharks

Odds of Winning: 6.5%

Why You Should Root For Them: They’re a perennial threat in the playoffs and they’re getting back rookie sensation Tomas Hertl. A reminder of what he does:

His smile upon winning the Cup would probably be able to power the United States for several years to come. Not to mention Captain Joe Thornton would probably have some kind of interesting celebration.

Hannah Says: Think of Hertl’s face if he gets to do a lap with the Cup. And all those other guys that have been working their tails off. But mostly Hertl.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: Because they do this every year. They look great, we know they’re a quality team, and then they just can’t get it together in the postseason. And this year they’re up against the Kings in the first round, who have a world class goalie, a team that’s a pain in the ass to play against, and the ability to beat the crap out of extremely good teams. Even if they make it past the Kings, it’s likely the Sharks will be pretty ragged by the end of it and that bodes nothing good for round 2. I mean, I’m rooting for the Sharks because I love a team that really has something to prove, but I know I’ll probably get my heart broken. Don’t be me.

 

6. Tampa Bay Lightning

Odds of Winning: 2.8%

Why You Should Root For Them: Wow, what are they doing all the way up here? This is the same Tampa Bay that was only above the Panthers last year because everyone was above the Panthers, right? I’m impressed. Way to pull yourself up, Tampa Bay.

Hannah Says: Winning a cup every ten years seems like a good pattern to start.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: Now, Steven Stamkos is a very talented player and so far Ben Bishop has been a pretty good goalie, but I’m just not sure about them. They won their last couple of games, which is usually a good sign, and their stats look all right, but this is a team that I am still utterly baffled by, especially since last year’s Art Ross winner, former captain Martin St. Louis, isn’t even with them anymore. (On a side note, that’s a reason to root for them: what if we could get them up against the Rangers, St. Louis’s new team? Of course, they’d have to beat the Habs and then probably the Bruins to get there, but wouldn’t that be great?)

 

5. St. Louis Blues

Odds of Winning: 8.5%

Why You Should Root For Them: Because you are a good American and they have on their team American goalie hero Ryan Miller, and noted Americans David Backes and of course T. J. “Shootout” Oshie.

Not that there’s going to be shootout in the playoffs. Oshie also just had a baby, which common wisdom says makes players better. The Blues have never won a Cup as a franchise, despite being generally decent, and in recent years just haven’t been able to pull it together. If Ryan Miller can be on top form and they find some scoring depth, they might have a chance of going all the way this year.

Hannah Says: You don’t want to root for the Blues. But if you’re determined to do so and you need a reason, they really like puppies.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: They’re up against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. It’s gonna be an awesome series because these teams hate each other, but of all the teams they could have been matched-up with first, the only one that would have been worse is the Kings. Sorry, Blues. I wish you well.

 

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Odds of Winning: 6.5%

Why You Should Root For Them: Because I’m rooting for them! …while knowing full well that I am more than likely going to be disappointed. The Penguins are a supremely talented team, but for some reason have had spectacular defensive meltdowns in the playoffs over the last couple years. Fortunately for the blood pressure of the state of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are not facing off in the first round, and the Penguins are instead facing off against the Blue Jackets, which is probably the best they could have hoped for. If the Penguins keep it together, they might be a threat to the Bruins, so that’s a reason to root for them, I guess.

Hannah Says: You know you want to see Marc-Andre Fleury give the finger to all national media after his lap with the Cup.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: See everything I said above about their defensive issues. They’ve looked better this year, but then I said that Last year and they got swept by the Bruins in the Conference Final. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…still shame on you. Be better.

 

3. Colorado Avalanche

Odds of Winning: 4.1%

Why You Should Root For Them: They’re the most movie-ready of all the underdog teams this year. Second to last in the league last year; winning the draft lottery to draft Nathan MacKinnon instead of noted defense prospect Seth Jones, a move that was highly criticized at the time; hiring legends Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy to run the team; a young, charismatic captain; and a forward who is bouncing back from a bad year (admittedly two years ago) to be arguably his team’s most valuable player. Also Patrick Roy is terrifying and probably performed some kind of dark magic to get this team where it is and you don’t want to upset him.

Hannah Says: If you’re scared of Patrick Roy and you know it, clap your hands. *claps hands*

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: The stats say they’ve been lucky this year and they have; they’ve also been relying heavily on talented goaltending (including Semyon Varlamov, who you should definitely not be rooting for) and a defense that all logic says should be far worse than it is right now. They’re matched up against Minnesota in the first round, so it seems likely to me that they’ll make it through that, but after the first round, all bets are off.

 

2. Anaheim Ducks

Odds of Winning: 13.3%

Why You Should Root For Them: Look, I like the Ducks okay and everything, but I’m honestly trying to think of a good reason to root for them aside from “they’re the highest ranked in the West so they’ll probably do pretty good until the conference final.” I guess they have noted old dudes Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, and it would be great to get them a cup, especially Koivu who has never won one before. Also Teemu, because we’re all rooting for Teemu, right?

Hannah Says: Root for them because it’s Teemu Selanne’s last year. Probably.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: They have the highest PDO (luck) in the league, which means that some of their success is probably down to luck. Which means that if you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, you should definitely root for them, because you’re used to rooting for teams playing above their heads before everything comes crashing down around them as they regress to the mean.

 

1. Boston Bruins

Odds of Winning: 40.6%

Why You Should Root For Them: They’re the best team in the league right now and they’re burning to make up for last year’s lapse in Game 6. They’ve added some new talent up front and rearranged their defense, probably in hope of preserving Chara and keeping him from getting worn down like last year. If you’re looking to bandwagon onto a team that’s gonna go all the way, the Bruins are likely your best bet.

Hannah Says: I’m fairly certain Tuukka Rask has sacrificed some of the kids from the Providence Bruins for his save percentage and I’d hate for that to go to waste.

Why You Shouldn’t Root For Them: Let’s face it, no one likes a team this good. You’re all secretly hoping they get swept by Detroit.

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