Photo: Steve Babineau/NHL via Getty Images
With the Washington Capitals eliminated from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, their fan base has a decision to make: Should they “forget” about hockey until the Draft, or should they choose to root for another team to win the Stanley Cup. In this piece, NoVa Caps’ Diane Doyle makes a case for and against rooting for each of the remaining teams in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Fans may choose to root for a particular team for a variety of reasons, whether due to family geographical ties, personal reasons, or attachments to former players on their own team. The following are arguments for and against rooting for each team remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Arguments For: A fan may admire the way the Bruins play, working more so as a team than relying on any one individual star player. Fans may also enjoy seeing the talent of the Bruins’ star players, including David Pastrnak, Zdeno Chara, and Patrice Bergeron.
Arguments Against: Some fans may believe that the New England area has had more than its fair share of championship parades as of late, with both the NFL’s New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox winning championships within the last year. Fans may also object to the on-ice behavior of Brad Marchand.
New York Islanders
Arguments For: While some Capitals fans may harbor ill-will for former Capitals and current Isles bench boss Barry Trotz, others may hope to see the man behind the bench for the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run last year lead the Islanders to their first championship since 1983. Trotz passed legendary NHL Head Coach and longtime Islanders’ bench boss Al Arbour on the All-Time Wins list and capturing a Stanley Cup with the team Arbour was long associated with. In addition to Trotz, former Capitals coaches Lane Lambert and Mitch Korn are also with the Islanders. Islanders player, Brock Nelson, is also a nephew of long time Capital, Dave Christian, and is also from Warroad, Minnesota, the same hometown as T.J. Oshie.
Arguments Against: While some Caps fans have no hard feelings with how Trotz’ tenure with the team ended, others believe the veteran coach was in the wrong and may not wish to see him not repeat as the Stanley Cup-winning bench boss. The Islanders are also a division rival of the Capitals and were a thorn in the Caps’ side throughout the 2018-19 regular season. In addition, Caps’ fans with long memories have many negative associations involving the Islanders: the Islanders being a dynasty that had won four consecutive Stanley Cups during the late 70’s and early 80’s; the Denis Potvin trip of Bengt Gustafsson in 1986 that resulted in a broken leg; the Easter Epic loss, quadruple Overtime loss to them in 1987; the Dale Hunter incident during an elimination playoff loss to them in 1993 that resulted in him being suspended for a quarter of the following season.
Arguments For: The Hurricanes gained notoriety around the league for their post-game celebrations after victories on home ice, known as “the Surge”. After a rough start to the season they rebounded in the final stretch to enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the first Wild Card seed in the Eastern Conference, as a true underdog team, who had not qualified for the playoffs in nearly a decade.
Arguments Against: For Capitals’ fans, the ‘Canes may not be high on the list of teams to root for the rest of the way in the postseason. While the defeat of the Capitals will certainly play a part in that decision, much of the Washington faithful will probably not wish to root for players such as Warren Foegele after his hit from behind on fan favorite T.J. Oshie resulted in Oshie breaking his clavicle and missing the rest of the series.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Arguments For: With a cast of players that include Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Cam Atkinson, and Seth Jones among others, the Blue Jackets have a roster full of stars. The Blue Jackets’ have won just one postseason series in their history, which came at the expense of the 2018-19 President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning, who were swept by Columbus.
Arguments Against: While there isn’t a whole lot to dislike about the Blue Jackets, some fans of the Capitals may not be overly enthralled with Head Coach John Tortorella, with his brash personality and commentary rubbing Capitals fans the wrong way in the past (the water bottle incident comes to mind).
Arguments For: For Capitals fans there are a couple of potential reasons why Colorado would be a team to root for. The most notable being the presence of former Capitals’ backup goalie and fan favorite Philipp Grubauer, who was a key part in the team’s own Stanley Cup run last season, and who was dealt to the Avs after the season. Former Caps netminder Semyon Varlamov is also a member, and the Avs’ lineup features names such as Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Tyson Barrie, all who have the ability to bring fans out of their seats with their respective skill.
Arguments Against: No notable reasons.
Arguments For: Like many of the other teams still in the postseason, Dallas possesses a menagerie of star power, with the likes of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Ben Bishop, and John Klingberg on the ice on a nightly basis. The Stars have not won a championship since 1999, making any potential end to a nearly 20-year drought a nice storybook ending to the season
Arguments Against: Preference for an Eastern Conference team. Also, some Caps fans, who also are Redskins fans, may not wish to root for a team from Dallas on general principle.
St. Louis Blues
Arguments For: Star Players such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly and rookie netminder Jordan Binnington are just some of a few reasons why Capitals’ fans should consider rooting for the Blues. After a difficult start to the season that saw the dismissal of Head Coach Mike Yeo, former Capitals player Craig Berube stepped in as interim bench boss and the team hasn’t looked back since. The team has not won a Championship in its history and have suffered many postseason disappointments in the last several seasons. A Stanley Cup to their remarkable turnaround season would cap off a storybook ending.
Arguments Against: The case against all of the Western Conference teams, Capitals fans may prefer to root for teams within the Conference and thereby, supporting an Eastern Conference Stanley Cup victory for the fourth consecutive spring (the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have won the last three titles).
San Jose Sharks
Arguments For: As noted with other teams, a star menagerie with the names of Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Joe Thornton is enough to bring any fan to attention. The Sharks have also never won a championship and doing so for a city that has suffered many heartbreaking playoff disappointments. A likely future Hall of Famer, Thornton has yet to lift the Stanley Cup above his head and like with Alex Ovechkin last summer, seeing Thornton win Lord Stanley’s mug would be a great end to a season.
Arguments Against: As cited in many other teams’ cases against, Capitals fans may prefer to stay within the Conference
By Diane Doyle