After losing a job in hockey and losing an actual team, I don’t think I watched more than two full NHL games during the regular season. I’m man enough to admit I was still bitter about losing the Thrashers and I don’t mind being petty.
Now that the regular season is over I’m back on the wagon and following the playoffs, because realistically speaking, what do the NHL playoffs have to do with the Thrashers? Nothing since 2007. It’s sad but true.
Here are the teams I’m pulling for in each series in the first round.
NY Rangers vs Ottawa Senators- The Sens. I lived in Ottawa for three years and loved the city, if not their team. I know a lot of Senators fans and they’re good people. Ottawa vs Toronto (2002) was also the first NHL playoff game I ever went to. If I recall correctly Ottawa up by two in the game and up 3-1 in the series and then let Alexander Mogilny cherry-pick his way to a hat trick. Toronto wound up winning the series too. Also, I like absolutely nothing about the Rangers except Brad Richards. The one time the Thrashers made the playoffs the Rangers swept them and their fans were utterly obnoxious about it. I was surrounded by them in the stands in game three when the Thrashers lost 7-0.
Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals- Bruins hands down. I grew up a Bruins fans and I loathe the Caps on account of their rivalry with the Thrashers. The two teams always hated each other. For the record, Patrice Bergeron is one of my all-time favorite players.
Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils- I’m incredibly happy for the long-suffering Panthers fanbase and I’d love to see them win a round or two just to make people’s heads explode. I’d also like to see former Thrashers Eric Boulton, Johan Hedberg, and Ilya Kovalchuk go on a run- especially Boulton, who has never experienced an NHL playoff win, let alone a series win. I’m leaning towards the Panthers because I love a good underdog story, but I’ll be happy no matter how this one goes.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers- Penguins, just because I dislike them less than I dislike Philly. No matter how the other three series go I’ll be rooting for whoever ends up playing the winner of this one. By the way, I have very good reasons to believe Ilya Kovalchuk was close to becoming a Flyer before the Thrashers traded him to the Devils. that’s all I’m saying about that right now.
Vancouver Canucks vs. LA Kings- I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’ll default to the Kings for the sake of the upset but I really don’t like anyone on the team and I actively dislike Carter, Richards, and Doughty. I’m not a Dean Lombardi fan either.
St. Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks- This is an easy one- the Blues. I’m on record with a variety of people as saying Joe Thornton will never win the Stanley Cup as a player. I’m sticking to it. On top of that, the Blues are a great story and I’d love to see them win their first Cup. I want to see either the Blues or the Predators in the Final.
Phoenix Coyotes vs. Chicago Blackhawks- Coyotes please. Even though they’re the team that should be in Winnipeg right now instead f the our team I feel for their fans. They’ve been through sports fan hell the last three (or more) years and I don’t hold the off-ice stuff against the players or fans. I’d still be okay with a Blackhawks win though just because I love watching Marian Hossa. He’s the best all-round player to ever play in Atlanta.
Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings- I’ll take the Predators. I’ve always had a soft spot for them and I have a boatload of respect for the way they run their organization, even if they were always super uptight about giving us preseason rosters on game days. I like their odds of going deep and it would be great to have the Stanley Cup back in the South. The Predators are the only current Southern team not to have played in the Stanley Cup Finals.
So that’s who I’m rooting for, and not necessarily who I think will win. Who do you like?