Friday, May 14, 2021

The Team Chaos fan’s guide to the 2021 playoffs

On Tuesday, I came up with a ranking of all 16 playoff teams based on how much fun they’d be as a bandwagon pick. After all, half of the league’s fan bases don’t have a team in this year’s playoffs, meaning we have a lot of fans with nothing to root for right now. If that’s you, I figured I could help by offering up a ranking of all the teams you have to choose from.

Except, I left one team off the list. And it was my favorite team. It’s probably yours too. We need to talk about Team Chaos.

Rooting for Team Chaos is way more fun than just cheering on one particular team, especially in the modern era of parity. Team Chaos never takes a night off. Team Chaos never gets sent home early. Team Chaos is always in it for the long haul, from the opening faceoff of game one until the final buzzer of the Cup final, and sometimes beyond. The best part of rooting for Team Chaos is that you never know when you’ll be surprised and delighted by some random bounce or bad break or missed call that turns the entire postseason into flaming Elmo dot jpg.

That doesn’t mean that a Team Chaos fan should just sit back and passively wait for the madness. No, we should focus our energy in certain directions, because some matchups create more potential for chaos than others.

What does that ideal scenario look like? That’s where I come in. I’ve run through all the possibilities, and come up with one vision of what could be the most chaotic possible path through the upcoming playoffs. This isn’t the only option – the beauty of Team Chaos is that they can beat you in so many ways – and if you have your own, feel free to dip into the comments and share it. But here’s how I could see it playing out…

First Round

Let’s start with what’s probably the most fertile ground for Team Chaos to do some work: the North Division. As you may have noticed, Canadians can be a little bit touchy when it comes to hockey, so everything that happens up here is magnified, amplified and nitpicked to death. It’s pretty great.

And this year, we’re finally going to get to see a Team Chaos dream matchup we haven’t seen since the 1970s. It’s Leafs vs. Habs, and you know something crazy is going to happen. I’m almost hesitant to ask the hockey gods for anything especially chaotic here, because they’ve no doubt already got something in store for us that’s far worse than anything we could imagine. If a Toronto/Montreal series goes seven, it will separate the country. No, I mean literally – Canadians will raid their toolsheds, saw a line along the Ontario/Quebec border, and then push.

But what result seems like it would be the most chaotic? As a reminder, we’re talking about a heavily favored Toronto team that features the best roster in modern Leafs history and, and that just traded every draft pick they have for deadline reinforcements. The Leafs could not be more all-in, and are under enormous pressure to at least win a round or two. By contrast, the Canadiens stumbled their way to being the last team to clinch a playoff spot, and they’ve looked awful for a month. On paper, this might be the most lopsided series there is.

So what do Team Chaos fans want to see? Come on.

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