Hopefully by this point we’ve all come to terms and accepted our beloved Blueshirts’ early and unfortunate playoff exit, enabling us to once again enjoy the game of hockey for what it is. It’s been a couple of weeks, and lucky for us there’s still some great playoff action to be enjoyed.
Rejoining the rest of the hockey world for the Stanley Cup Final might be tough however if you aren’t sure which team to support. If you find yourself struck by this deep existential conundrum, look no further, because I’ve got you covered.
Why root for the Preds?
The first reason is nice and simple: the city of Nashville has embraced hockey unlike perhaps any other expansion city, with the city-wide joy plainly evident and the fans loud and raucous both inside the arena and out. Wouldn’t it be cool if a fandom that dedicated and energized by the game got to meet its ultimate prize? There would be literally nothing better for Nashville as a hockey town than a Stanley Cup victory, and there is no doubt that the fans there would appreciate it.
The next reason is also pretty obvious: PK Subban and the rest of the Nashville blueline. Subban’s trade from the Montreal Canadiens was anything but pretty, with Montreal media makig every possible excuse to spin it like it was a rational, and totally not absurd thing to do. We’ve heard that it was a “win now” move for Montreal, we’ve heard about PK’s alleged character deficiencies (which is strange considering his multi-million dollar donation to a children’s hospital and generally affable personality, but I digress), we’ve heard literally every excuse but they’re just that – excuses. Subban has excelled in Nashville, becoming the team’s first bona fide superstar and the first black superstar this league has ever really seen. He’s a great ambassador for the game and winning a Cup would cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats. That’s not even getting to rest of the Nashville defensive group, which is perhaps the best in the league. Seriously. If you can’t find a single reason on this team’s backend to cheer them on, I just don’t know y’all.
Third, following the freak injury to Ryan Johansen, they’re something of an underdog, and it would be really nice if they won it for their teammate, who’s dealing with a bizarre and scary medical issue in acute compartment syndrome. If you don’t know what that is, look it up and be glad you’ve never encountered it before. Winning it for guys who are injured is always nice, doubly so when the injury is as crazy and serious as Johansen’s.
Lastly, you might want to cheer for the Preds if you’re a normal, decent human being and not a soulless Penguins fan.
Why root for the Penguins?
Let’s get the two most obvious reasons out of the way: Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are binary stars in a whole nother galaxy from everyone else. Each of them individually would be probably the best player ever to play for any given team, and the fact that the two of them are on the same squad is just absurd. They do things others just can’t do, night in, night out. It’s hard not to appreciate the kind of hockey they play – in fact I’d say it’s impossible.
Along the lines of the PK Subban “most likable guy” reason to root for the Preds is the “Phil Kessel is great” reason to root for the Penguins. He’s a cancer survivor, he’s put up with a ton of crap throughout his career, and oh yeah, he’s an offensive dynamo. His wrister is simply too much to believe, with that quick release and crazy accuracy. He skates well, passes well, and is a real deal finisher. Combine that with the fact that he’s one of the most righteous dudes in the game, and well.
This one is more big picture, but you might want to root for the Penguins if you’re into seeing feats of longevity in sports. Dynastic episodes in sports are just cool, doubly so when they’re just straight up repeats. Like the Yankees of the late 90s, the Bulls of the early 90s, or the Spanish national soccer team of the mid-2000s, the Penguins have the chance to do something really special by being the first team to win back to back Stanley Cups in the salary cap era. It would cement several players’ legacies as among the greats, and certainly make a case for the team as being among the best ever to win the Cup.
Finally, you might want to root for the Penguins if you hate good things.
If it wasn’t already clear I’m all aboard the Predators bandwagon. Let’s go Preds and happy Memorial Day Weekend!"Who to root for in the Stanley Cup Final?",