There are two schools of thought when it comes to jumping on a new bandwagon once your team is out of the NHL playoffs. The first is that you just don’t. Your team is your team, and once they’re out you are too.
But for some fans, that’s easier said than done. Hockey is just more fun when you have somebody to cheer for. And if that can’t be your personal favourite team, well, you’ll just have to find a temporary backup plan.
No. 16: Chicago Blackhawks
Why you should get on board: They're the best team in the Western Conference, not to mention the best team of the salary-cap era, and will go into the playoffs as a favourite to go all the way.
Why you shouldn't: You saw what we said up there about front-runner picks being the worst, right?
Seriously, you can't pick the Blackhawks. They're a great team, and they've got a clear path through the West to the Cup final, and most of the roster already has a mitt full of Cup rings. And that's exactly why you can't pick them.
Bottom line: Do not do this.
No. 15: Pittsburgh Penguins
Why you should get on board: The Penguins are another excellent team with a very good shot at winning it all. But the loss of Kris Letang and a tough matchup with the Blue Jackets at least strips them of any kind of sure-thing status. They make for a gutsier pick than the Blackhawks, if only by a little.
Also, Phil Kessel.
Why you shouldn't: They're still the defending champs. And rooting for them over the Blue Jackets is like watching a 98-lb. weakling try to stand up to the bodybuilder who always kicks sand in his face and deciding you're on Team Bully.
Bottom line: Nope.
No. 14: Boston Bruins
Why you should get on board: You certainly couldn't be accused of front-running with this pick, as the Bruins won't be on many lists of true Cup contenders. But they're on a few, particularly among some of the analytics types. There's no better bandwagon pick than a long shot who comes through for you, and the Bruins are a sneaky pick to be that team.
Why you shouldn't: They might beat the Senators in round one, but unless you're a big believer in fancy stats, their Cup chances seem minimal, and an exit in the first round or two seems likely. Also, their best player likes to occasionally pitchfork opponents in the berries.
Bottom line: They're the first choice on our list that isn't a definite no, and if you're into the numbers or just want to roll the dice on a long shot, feel free to nudge them up a few spots. But they're a long shot for a reason.
No. 13: Minnesota Wild
Why you should get on board: They're a good team with a fun coach that hasn't had all that much success over the years, but will go into this year's playoffs with home-ice in the first round.
Why you shouldn't: That one sentence up above is pretty much all I could think of.
Bottom line: As bandwagon picks go, the Wild are OK. They're fine. If they're your pick, I won't try to talk you out of it. But they're not exactly inspired, you know?