We’re officially “deep” into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that means the question of “Who are you cheering for to win The Cup?’ is being thrown around more and more.
It’s not a question of who I think WILL win it all in June, but who I WANT to, and for someone like myself who roots for/follows teams that are always finished by early April (or December), that question is very complex.
There are always good stories around the league, and as I’ve followed the game more and gotten older I’ve stopped picking a team to cheer for as I can feel good for whicher team/fan base gets to call themselves the best team in the NHL.
But this year that changed. I have picked one team to root for and that team is….
The Pittsburgh Penguins!
Comeback stories are great and the Penguins are exactly that. Most had written them off and a lot of the hate was directed at Sidney Crosby.
But they fired Mike Johnston and Sidney Crosby started playing like Sidney Crosby and finished with the second most points in the Eastern Conference.
They have rookie goalie Matt Murray between the pipes which is another great story. From 3rd string goalie to Conn Smythe candidate. That’s stuff of legend.
Seeing the Penguins finish off a rollercoaster season on top and seeing the greatest player of this generation hoist Lord Stanley again. That would be quite the sight…
…well speaking of out of nowhere success stories, have you been following the Tampa Bay Lightning?!
I mean a few months ago Jonathan Drouin QUIT THE TEAM. He walked out of the AHL and said he wasn’t going to play for the Tampa Bay organization again.
Then they lost one of their most effective defenders before the playoffs in Anton Stralman and to make things even worse they lost one of the best players in the NHL when Steven Stamkos went down with blood clots.
They were written off by almost everyone.
Fast forward a bit and their in the conference finals and there being led by the same Jonathan Drouin that was abandoned/walked out a few months ago. Combine that with the existing youth they have in Kucherov, Johnson and Palat.
Forget the Penguins! If you have a heart you’ll certainly be rooting for the Tampa Bay Lightning!
But speaking of heart, Jumbo Joe Thornton and the rest of the San Jose Sharks are going for a real run in this year’s playoffs and they’re doing it by having a lot of fun!
Their grinding it out every shift of every game and are having a tonne of fun doing it.
There are no shortages of great stories on this team either. Martin Jones had the best seat in the house for the last 2 LA Kings Stanley Cup wins, and now he is going a run of his own and is the reason the Sharks are winning a lot of games.
Joe Thornton/Patrick Marleau/Joe Pavelski have all had the captaincy at some point in their stints with the Sharks and now they’re sharing the goal scoring responsibilities through 2 rounds.
This team exercised their demons in their first round win over the Kings and are proving to everyone that they aren’t the “choke-artist” Sharks of years past.
So screw the east! How cool would it be to see San Jose win their franchise’s first Stanley Cup? I got to be rooting for the Sharks to win it all.
Hold up. Did someone say exercising playoff demons? And first Stanley Cup? First Cup Finals appearance?
St. Louis Blues fans know all about those. Founded in 1967 they still haven’t won their first Stanley Cup. THAT’S ALMOST 40 YEARS WITHOUT A CUP OR EVEN A CUP FINALS APPEARANCE.
Even if you don’t like the Blues, you should be rooting for them just to put their fans out of their misery, right?
Aside from that, Brian Elliott is an incredible story too. Now on his 3rd NHL team and he’s always been the backseat driver in terms of Blues goaltending. In 13/14 they brought in Ryan Miller because they didn’t trust Elliot, then they brought in Martin Brodeur (which didn’t work), then they let youngster Jake Allen run with the job and now, finally, Brian Elliott has a chance to prove his worth and despite only having one game of playoff experience before this, the former 9th round pick (?!?!?) is going on a serious run this spring.
Out of nowhere names like Parayko, Fabbri and Lehtera are also playing huge rolls and have everyone, except for Blues fans, surprised. Fabbri is tied for first in team scoring through 16 playoff games and was huge in their game 7 win over the Stars while Parayko is consistently playing close to 20 minutes a night. Not to mention we share the same hometown.
They have a hometown kid and a chance to make their first Stanley Cup Final ever? Sign me up for that bandwagon!
But first times are cool and all that, but theres something about establishing greatness that’s so mouth watering in today’s sports world…
…so why not cheer for a group establishing greatness and hop on the Pittsburgh Penguins bandwagon……
Enjoy the playoffs hockey fans, no matter who you root for.