Even though the Penguins were knocked out of the playoffs Monday, hockey will still go on. If you are a hardcore fan of the sport – by reading this blog there’s a very high chance you are- it’s still very entertaining to watch hockey into the summer and see the world’s greatest trophy presented. Today we’ll look at the pros and cons of rooting for any of the remaining playoff teams.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Pros: Over the past 5 years, you could make the argument the Lightning have been the best team in the Eastern Conference. They lost to the Blackhawks in the 2015 final and were knocked out the next season in 7 games to the eventual champion. Out of all the teams left, I’d argue they “deserve” a cup the most. Injuries and running into the greatest two teams of the 21st century are really the only things that have held them back from a championship. Plus they have Chris Kunitz now, and what Penguin fan doesn’t want to see him get his fifth ring.
Cons: Though only one playoff series transpired between the teams, the Lightning have become an interesting rival to the Pens. They have predominantly been the two best teams in the East and maybe a cup would make them more of the Penguins’ equal. Plus there still has to be some hate left towards the Lightning from that series in 2016 as well as the cluster of former Rangers they have that knocked out the Penguins in both 2014 and 2015.
Pros: Uh… yeah this might be difficult. Maybe, you are a fan that has become very favorable of Alex Ovechkin and finally want to see him get his championship. Or maybe you subscribe to the theory that if you lose to the champ you can take more pride in the result. I don’t know. That’s all I’ve got.
Cons: I’ll keep this brief. Barry Trotz is a no-neck loser that makes John Totorella seem respectable. Alex Ovechkin is still a cheap player that has intentionally tried to injure Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar in the past. Tom Wilson is a Neanderthal mouth-breather that enjoys taking years off other players’ lives. And then there’s TJ Oshie, who easily has the most punchable face in the NHL. For some reason he became an “American Hero” for scoring in a shootout of a non-medal round game. But really it was just Dan Bylsma taking the game out of the hands of his best players and relying on a grinder to get the job done. Sound familiar?
Pros: The nation that invented ice hockey has been without a champion in 25 years. All of Canada is theoretically behind this Jets team to end the streak and bring Lord Stanley back up North, or are they? Imagine if Winnipeg, the smallest Canadian market in the NHL was the one to finally capture greatness, while huge markets like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are still stuck in hockey purgatory. An entire country would turn into teenage girls – they pretend to be happy for their peer, as rage and jealousy fill their hormone inducing bodies. Could make for a fantastic few months on hockey twitter.
Cons: Well I guess they’re the only team left without any prominent former Penguins. Overall, the make up of their team just isn’t very interesting. Of course there are the blossoming stars in Patrik Laine and Mark Schieffle but besides them there aren’t many story lines to attach. Kevin Cheveldayoff’s patience in building this team has obviously paid off on the ice, but off it there’s nothing entertaining to look back to.
Vegas Golden Knights
Pros: It’s an expansion team, but you all know that. And you all also know that no expansion team in any major sport has ever made a playoff let alone win the whole thing. So yeah it’s a great story – and a great goaltender too.
Cons: Ok this is where people will disagree with me… If Vegas wins the Stanley Cup, it completely devalues everything in hockey as we know it. Winning a cup is supposed to take years of heartbreak, decades of manufacturing the right roster, and they’re just going to win anyway? Vegas fans will never know what it feels like to fail over and over in the playoffs like the Capitals, to go 50 years without a cup like Toronto, to have to watch Rico Fata and Dick Tarnstrom carry a team to 23 wins in an 82 game season. In sports you have to have pain before you can enjoy the thrill of success. If Vegas wins now, it could destroy a fanbase before they even had a chance to settle in. A “one and done” now could leave fans chasing an unreachable high that could ruin the experience entirely.