Well, it is over. The New Jersey Devils have been eliminated from the playoffs, and we are now left to figure out what to do with our lives. Better ourselves and others around us? Nah. Time to spend every night listening to Mike Millbury and company while watching match ups that don’t affect the Devils. Its playoff time. But how do you decide who to root for now that the Devils are out? Don’t worry friend, you clicked on the perfect link. Here is our fan guide to the rest of the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Lightning
I know this is a tough sell but here me out. Wouldn’t you want to lose to the best? No. You still hate Kucherov. Okay, I understand. The Lightning are the crop of the Eastern Conference and if it was based off who has the most talent, Tampa Bay should be the one’s coming out of the Eastern Conference. I understand the hesitation to root for a team that knocked New Jersey out, but you have to admit the Lightning are fun to watch when they’re at their best. Tampa winning wouldn’t objectively be the worst thing to happen (considering other teams that remain), so why not root for them?
Let’s be real…most (or none at all) Devils fans aren’t rooting for the Bruins. Whether it be Brad Marchand and his flying elbows or their insufferable fan base, they are simply not a team that appeals to neutral fans. They may actually have a good shot at winning the Stanley Cup, but that’s all the more reason to root for whoever they’re playing against. Simply put, don’t sacrifice your morals for success. If you are thinking about rooting for Boston, go look up “Marchand slew foot” on YouTube. Still having second thoughts? Just rewatch Marchand’s elbow on Marcus Johansson.
We all want Charlie Brown to finally kick the football, but Lucy always pulls it away. Just once it would be nice to see them finally slay their dragon and beat the Penguins (let alone advance beyond the second round). Alexander Ovechkin has gone grey from stress trying to get Washington to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1998. If you root against Ovechkin, the blood is on your hands. If Washington winds up winning, you can just say the Capitals needed your specific “mojo” to win the cup, giving you a false sense of accomplishment.
You want to see history. In the salary cap era, a three-peat hasn’t even been close to being completed. It would cement this Penguins team as one of, if not the best teams of all time. They have those players you either love or hate like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel, which could complicate matters. Let’s also not forget the past two Stanley Cup Finals have been absolute snorefests, so why would a third appearance including the Penguins be any different?
Seeing P.K Subban hoist the Stanley Cup would be music to the hockey world’s ears (no pun intended). They also currently have one of the best fan environments in the league, and a roster full of likeable stars like Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne. It is always good for the NHL to grow in non-traditional markets, so a vote for the Predators is a vote for the growing hockey culture in the south.
Winnipeg is the perfect team’s bandwagon to hop on right now. Young, fast, skilled; they have it all. In my opinion, Winnipeg has the best home environment in the league with their White Out. They are just fun to watch, and have set themselves up for long-term success. If you want to stay engaged throughout the playoffs with an up-and-coming team, commit now before it becomes “mainstream” to like the Jets. They have no real qualms with the Devils either so there is no conflict of interest.
Las Vegas Golden Knights:
Wouldn’t this be something…A team of cast-offs and young talent making the Stanley Cup Finals. Las Vegas hasn’t paid their dues, but a win for the Golden Knights would do a lot to cement them as a genuine hockey market. It would also probably bolster the expansion cost for Seattle. As a Devils fan, I think we can all agree the most enjoyment we would get from them winning the finals would be seeing Jon Merril finally get the raise the cup.
San Jose Sharks:
The Sharks have another Devils alumni in their head coach Pete DeBoer, who has once again led San Jose to the playoffs. Joe Thornton is running out of time to finally get his cup, so there is a sense of urgency with this team. The Sharks have been teetering closer to a potential rebuild, so it is now or never this postseason with their window closing. If you want the best “Veteran finally getting a cup” story, San Jose is your team to follow moving forward.