The Columbus Blue Jackets have been eliminated from the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoff but, for 16 teams, the chase for a Stanley Cup begins next week.
Are you interested in hopping on a bandwagon for the 2022 playoffs? Good! Hockey playoffs are cool. Thankfully, we have this handy guide to help you pick a team. Read on, find the one the lines up most quickly with what you value in a team, and hitch your wagon to them for the next two weeks to two months!
You’re picking the Lightning if you like the safe choice (they’ve won the last two Cups, after all), or you enjoy holding the 2019 series sweep over the heads of a team that has won more Cups in the last two years than the Blue Jackets have won playoff series in franchise history. But never let them forget who that one series was over.
You are probably related to Brad Marchand, or you have a Tom Brady jersey in the closet. Otherwise, why are you cheering for Boston to have more nice things? They already have the Celtics this spring. Let other cities have something nice already. They have Nick Foligno now, but is that really enough to overcome the whole Boston of it all?q
Con: You’d be cheering for the richest team in the league, with all the media behind them, and exorbitant attention relative to performance since 1967. Pro: You’re probably gonna be free after round one to enjoy the weather and get some golf in or something. Having as little time committed as possible is a skill.
Bill Zito, former Blue Jackets assistant general manager, has built a Presidents Trophy-contending juggernaut since replacing Dale Tallon. Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau lead the best offense in the NHL (4.16 goals per game), Sergei Bobrovsky has played serviceably in net, and they went all in at the trade deadline looking for the franchise’s first playoff series win since 1996. If you like cheering for small market teams without a track record of success, but also want some connection to the Blue Jackets, this is your team.
The Bunch of Jerks thing was cute for about ten seconds before they became an actual bunch of jerks. You’re mostly cheering for this team because you want to see someone not named Pittsburgh or Washington win the Metro division, which is fine, but you can do better.
No. Also, Jeff Carter is a Penguin now. Extra no.
You want to see Alex Ovechkin score goals. That’s it. That’s the reason. A valid reason, but the only reason.
PDO is fun, isn’t it? The Rangers were a power play and a goaltender for most of the season, but they’ve somehow developed into a good 5 on 5 team down the stretch, which makes them dangerous. Chris Kreider had 50 goals this season without ever scoring 30 in a year before this year, and Igor Shesterkin has a 2.03 GAA and a .936 SV% this year to stake a claim to the Hart Trophy and almost certainly win the Vezina. They were doubted for a long time this year, but have hung around enough to be the Metro’s second seed. It’s New York, but they’re a fun story (and Shesterkin is legitimately incredible).
The Flames are proof that a blend of defensive prowess, good goaltending, and an elite forward or two can make some noise and win a division when they’re not coached by John Tortorella. Darryl Sutter has his Flames in position to win the Pacific thanks to a great season from Jacob Markstrom, 100 point seasons from both Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, and solid defensive efforts night in and night out. The peak version of the 2017-19 Blue Jackets, coached by not-Torts, would’ve probably looked something like this.
You’re a Browns fan. “Surely THIS is the year!” is your mantra. Or you like seeing the top offensive players in the world do their thing better than anyone else. The Oilers, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, have two of the top ten players on the planet. They also have a winnable first round matchup. The Oilers also have a track record of completely imploding (see: allowing four unanswered third period goals to Columbus just four days ago). You’re watching for the spectacle - something is going to happen, but who knows what.
Phillip Danault leads a resurgent Kings team that was expected to miss the playoffs into the Pacific’s three seed. The Kings have successfully reloaded on the fly, making savvy signings combined with astute draft picks to be able to give Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick at least one more run at the Stanley Cup. Their reload is hope that the Blue Jackets can bounce back into playoff contention sooner rather than later.
Arguably the best atmosphere in the playoffs, the Nashville Predators boast a loud crowd, a couple former Blue Jackets (Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene), a Vezina finalist in Jusse Saros, and a top flight setting for the playoffs. Nashville is a Tier 1 building to see a game in, and cheering for that madness is perfectly acceptable.
Eliminating the Vegas Golden Knights is worth a certain amount of goodwill, and Joe Pavelski is worth cheering for, but they’re going against an absolute buzzsaw in the first round. If you like cheering for history-making upsets, this is your series.
The St. Louis Blues have managed to make a goaltending change despite a huge contract to the presumptive starter, keep an unhappy superstar in town despite a trade request, and have never really been in doubt of missing the playoffs despite so much turmoil. Ville Husso and Robert Thomas have steadied a franchise that was teetering and led them back to the postseason. An overperforming center and hot goaltender have won a Cup for the Blues before - can lightning strike twice?
Kirill Kaprizov is one of the most electric players in the NHL, Marc-Andre Fleury has solidified a shaky goaltending situation, but most importantly? This is THE chance for this club. Like the 2019 Blue Jackets that swept the Lightning, the Wild are facing a reckoning this offseason - the dead cap hits of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise hang over this franchise like the Sword of Damocles. The Wild’s time to make a run is now.
Former Monsters coach Jared Bednar leads the heavy favorites into the playoffs. A bona-fide start at the number one center position, a multiple-time Norris finalist on defense, depth and savvy moves have led to one of the most well-rounded contenders that you’ll see in this postseason. The Avalanche led the league in points for most of the season despite ever star on the roster missing a handful of games at a minimum. They can play any style, win offensive shootouts as well as goaltending battles, bully teams below the goal lines and out-skill them between the dots. They’re the favorite to win the Cup, which means there’s no chance they win it.
Who are you cheering for this postseason? Let us know in the comments!