The Stanley Cup playoffs start tonight, which was news to me, because the Capitals aren’t in them. Womp womp. There are exciting players (besides Alex Ovechkin) and story lines to watch, and the NHL’s postseason might be the best in sports, but it’s just not the same when you’re not emotionally invested in every game.
Which team, if any, should Capitals fans support? Certainly not the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are the playoff team of choice in the area based on the Facebook Likes map above. (Seriously, where’s the Crosby hate?)
Here are the four teams I’m most likely to get behind.
The Western Conference’s top seed is the most obvious choice, with Bruce Boudreau behind the bench and Mathieu Perreault skating alongside Teemu Selanne, who is chasing a second Stanley Cup in his 21st and final season.
Columbus Blue Jackets
This is the only Eastern Conference team I’d consider supporting. Everyone else, with the exception of the Bruins, has been the source of Capitals playoff misery in the not-too-distant past. (I was only 6, but I remember the Bruins’ sweep of Washington in the 1990 Wales Conference finals, and that’s enough for me to dislike them forever.) Yeah, the Blue Jackets held off the Caps for the final wild card spot, but there’s not much to hate about a team making its second playoff appearance in franchise history.
Last major league hockey team from Ohio to win a playoff game? ’79 Cincinnati Stingers. On that WHA team- Mark Messier and Barry Melrose
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 16, 2014
The best reason to root for Columbus? They’re playing Pittsburgh in the first round. Just try to forget that the Blue Jackets lost all five games against the Penguins during the regular season.
(Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)
San Jose Sharks
Sharks fans know what it’s like to root for a team that dominates during the regular season and then wilts in the playoffs. San Jose has reached the Western Conference Finals three times since 2004, but they’ve yet to appear in a Stanley Cup Finals.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues, who entered the league in 1967, are the oldest franchise to never win a Stanley Cup. They’re more due than the Caps.
If you’re still undecided, Japers’ Rink has an excellent rundown of the pros and cons of rooting for every playoff team. If you prefer flowcharts, see here and here.
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