Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Lightning or Avalanche? A Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for every other fan base

The Stanley Cup final is here, and on paper it’s the best matchup we’ve had in a while. Maybe Pittsburgh and San Jose in 2016? Tampa and Chicago in 2015? The Wings/Penguins back-to-backs? Something before that? I’m not really sure, which is to say that this matchup has the potential to be incredible.

So good, in fact, that fans of all the other teams might be tempted to just sit back and enjoy it. No rooting interest, no bias, no emotional investment, just up to seven games of great hockey and a worthy champion to applaud at the end.

It goes without saying that this would be unacceptable.

We’re hockey fans. We don’t do happy and even-keeled. We need to be rooting for one team, and hate-watching the other. Mostly the latter, if we’re being honest, but the point is that you need to pick a side.

Maybe you already have one. But if not, I’m here to help. Let’s go through all 30 loser teams and help their fans decide whether they should hop on the bandwagon for the Lightning or Avalanche. For what it’s worth, the Avs ranked way higher in our pre-playoffs bandwagon rankings so we’d expect them to lead the way here, but let’s see how it plays out.

Anaheim Ducks

I’ve spent the last few years telling Ducks fans to root for Corey Perry, and I should probably just play that card again now that he’s back in the final with yet another team. But I feel like Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano being on the Avalanche complicates this one, and maybe Perry is just destined to wander the league like Caine in Kung Fu until he realizes that Anaheim is the only place he can ever truly find joy. Also, it’s just super satisfying to root against Corey Perry, you guys should try it some time.

Pick: Avalanche

Arizona Coyotes

Last July’s trade that sent Darcy Kuemper to the Avs makes this an easy call. Not only was Kuemper a good soldier in Arizona, he brought back a first-round pick when he was dealt. Seeing him lift a Cup for Colorado would give Bill Armstrong some nice leverage when selling off other pieces to contenders. And as an added bonus, Arizona gets an additional third-round pick in the trade if Colorado wins the Cup.

Pick: Avalanche

Boston Bruins

The Lightning are in your division and have knocked you out of the playoffs twice in the last four years. Also, you still have that “77” Avalanche tattoo from 2001.

Pick: Avalanche

Buffalo Sabres

The Lightning have run their streak to 11 consecutive playoff series wins, which feels like it should be impossible in the cap era. Wouldn’t it be cool to find out that postseason streaks can end at 11?

Pick: Avalanche

Calgary Flames

Colorado stomped the Oilers, and the Lightning stole a Stanley Cup that was rightfully yours in 2004. Look, I swear I didn’t mean for all of these picks to be Colorado, but this one’s easy.

Pick: Avalanche

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