Monday, April 29, 2019

Which surviving playoff teams should Canadian fans root for?

It’s​ another year without​ a Stanley​ Cup​ for​ Canada but​ at​ least the​ hockey gods didn’t​ toy with us​ for​ too long this​​ time. Four of the country’s seven teams didn’t make the playoffs at all and the three that did all made first-round exits. When the Maple Leafs are your longest surviving team, it hasn’t been a great year.

And if we’re being honest, most Canadian fans are probably fine with that. The whole national Cup drought thing has always been the sort of narrative that seems to be more important to the media than to most of the fans. Let’s face it, most of the country’s fans don’t want to see any Canadian team other than their own win a Cup. When our team is out, we don’t jump on the bandwagon of the Leafs or Jets or whoever. We want everyone else in the country to be miserable too.

But now everyone is miserable and we’ve still got three rounds to get through. And that’s had some fans wondering what comes next:

That’s a great question. We’ve already done the annual guide for bandwagon-hopping, but that was a league-wide initiative. Today, we’re looking for the best remaining bandwagon for fans of each Canadian team. We’ll consider a few factors, like rivalries and history, hometown players on the roster and any popular former figures who might show up in another team’s story.

And since Canadian fans don’t do unity, let’s make sure that each fan base gets a team of its own, with no duplicates. We’ll go through all seven teams, starting with the easiest pairing we’re going to find …

Ottawa Senators

The Senators give us a couple of obvious options to consider. The first is in Columbus, which is writing the kind of underdog success story that Ottawa will be shooting for over the next few years. More importantly, they’re doing it with a pair of former Sens in Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. Granted, there may be some mixed feelings towards Duchene given how his tenure in Ottawa played out. But if he’s happy in Columbus, he’s more likely to re-sign there, which would deliver another first-round pick to the Senators. That makes the Blue Jackets a decent choice.

But there’s an even better one and it’s one of Pierre Dorion’s other key trading partners. That would be San Jose, where former captain Erik Karlsson is chasing the Cup he never managed to bring to Ottawa. Karlsson remains universally beloved among Senator fans, so it shouldn’t be tough to convince them to cheer him on. Let’s face it, most of them already are.

Mix in Logan Couture being a former 67s star and we’re all set. And if you’re a Sens fan who still somehow needs just a little extra incentive, remember that Ottawa can get the Sharks’ 2021 first-round pick if they make the final.

That covers Ottawa and it takes the Sharks off the board. That’s the easiest pick we’re going to able to find, but let’s see if we can pair up a few more Canadian fans with a temporary team that makes sense.

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