No one's been fired yet, huh? Okay, well I guess we'll talk about the playoffs. A few weeks ago I was kind of feeling like I just didn't have it in me to watch the playoffs this year but then the Sabres-induced depression cleared and I realized that was crazy. I love hockey. I love the playoffs. I love the following my whims and jumping on and off bandwagons as I see fit. I love getting attached to players I don't usually watch much. I love the first couple of rounds when there's hockey on all night. I love staying up all night watching that game you think is never, ever going to end and then draaaagging myself to work the next morning. I'm not going to be one of those people who tries to tell you that it might even be more fun to not have my team in the playoffs because I don't really care who wins and loses now because seriously, that's bogus. I'd much rather be having a heart attack about the Sabres than cheering for teams I don't really care about. But this is fun too.
I was going to give you a break-down of who I think will and won't win but you know what? Not even I find that very interesting. I will freely admit that I don't watch a lot of regular season hockey outside of the Sabres so my opinion, particularly in the Western Conference, would be almost entirely based on other people's opinions. Instead I'm going to tell you who I'm cheering for. Even that can change suddenly, again, especially in the WC. I often find my whims and affections coming and going at the drop of a puck in the postseason. I suppose that is the one luxury of not having your team in. Here's the list as it shakes out now.
TEAM I'M ROOTING FOR THE MOST (FOR NOW)
St. Louis Blues - Jay McKee. Bit of an underdog. Lots of excited young players in their first postseason. Also, Jay McKee. There are a number of former Sabres out there. The thought of most of them hoisting the Stanley Cup makes me a little nauseous. Not Jay. I love Jay. Go Jay, go!
OTHER TEAMS I'D BE HAPPY WITH AS STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS
Boston Bruins - At the beginning of the year I would've told you this would never, ever happen. I've gone on record many times as hating playing and watching the Bruins. My Bruins related tags are "Boston Bruins," "Boston Bruins are really really boring," and "I hate the Boston Bruins." But somewhere over the course of the season they really grew on me. They have some super talented players but mostly they play really well together and work hard, two things I, as a Sabres fan, didn't see too much of this year. I'd prefer that Phil Kessel not score any really important goals or win the Conn Smythe but other than him, I find them pretty likable.
Montreal Canadiens - I love those crazy, slightly disturbed Canadian fans and their stupid Ole Ole bit. I'm not holding my breath waiting for them to win the Cup but I'd be okay with it if they did. They have a number of players I really like and I generally find them fun to watch. When they're not sucking it up big time.
Detroit Red Wings - Yeah, yeah. They've won like, a billion times already. I love watching them play.
Columbus Blue Jackets - This is subject to change because it does seem like I end up hating the Blue Jackets every time I actually find myself watching them play. For now they can stay up here though because who doesn't love a good Cinderella story? Also, Rick Nash eats with a stuffed Oscar the Grouch. Awesome.
Calgary Flames - Jarome Iginla plus another crazy Canadian fan base.
TEAMS I'D BE OKAY WITH AS STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS (MAYBE. I THINK.)
New Jersey Devils - I don't hate the Devils with the passion that many hockey fans do. I actually find them a little enjoyable. I've yet to really warm up to them either though. I do like a number of Devils players however so I'd be okay with them winning, I think.
Pittsburgh Penguins - Not super enthusiastic about them. There's still something about them that really, really bothers me. But family sentiment wins out, making them an acceptable choice.
San Jose Sharks - I don't find them nearly as much fun to cheer for now that they're everyone's favorite but I could still definitely get behind them under the right circumstances. I find them to be a pretty likable group.
Vancouver Canucks - I find the Sedin twins a little creepy for some reason but for now, I'm really pretty neutral on the Canucks. For some reason I feel like I'll end up going strongly one way or the other with them, I'm just not sure which way it'll be yet.
Chicago Blackhawks - I feel like various entities - the NHL and TBN, just to name a couple - have been attempting to make me love the Blackhawks so I'm not super high on them. I've taken an obstinate, "I refuse!" stance thus far. But there's nothing really reprehensible about them either - even Brian Campbell seems okay from afar - so I can't really put them on the "Dear God NO!" list yet.
Philadelphia Flyers - You know what? I kinda like them. So sue me. I'm not rooting for them or anything primarily because of the Daniel Briere factor (no matter what his actual contribution, people in Buffalo will be acting like Briere single-handedly carried his very talented teammates to victory) but I wouldn't be completely devastated to see them win.
PLEASE GOD, DO NOT LET THESE TEAMS WIN THE STANLEY CUP
Anaheim Ducks - Does this need an explanation? They're of Satan.
Carolina Hurricanes - Them too.
Washington Capitals - I hate the Caps. I do. Don't ask me to explain how that works but I really, really hate them. I don't want them to win. I'm almost willing to cheer for the Rangers in the first round just because they're playing the Caps. (Not quite though. I'm pulling for spontaneous implosion.)
On a total side note, Mike Green as the Norris winner? Really? Once and for all, Mike Green is NOT the best defenseman in the NHL. The best offensive defenseman? Sure. Fine. Absolutely. But that's not what the Norris is. It says right there in the award description "to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position." ALL-ROUND. That means defensive ability should be included as well. Granted we only played the Caps four times this season but Green was a pretty legitimate defensive disaster in two of those games. TO BE THE BEST DEFENSEMAN IN THE LEAGUE A GUY SHOULD BE GOOD ON OFFENSE AND DEFENSE. I also think he should be one of his team's best penalty killers and he should play against the opposition's top line but that's my opinion. Award winning defensemen should be great on the defensive side of the puck. If I had a vote for the Norris it would go to Zdeno Chara. No contest. If Mike Green wins the Norris, it's a sure sign that the NHL needs an award specifically for defensive defensemen.
Where were we? Oh, right.
New York Rangers - Look, let's be honest. This is all about Chris Drury. Sean Avery is reprehensible. The Rangers are a gross and disgusting. But if Chris Drury wins a Cup this year, lots of people here are going to be irrational and insane and obnoxious and I will have no choice but to move out of Buffalo. This cannot happen.
Okay, here are my quick picks: Bruins in 5, Caps in 6, Canes in 6, Penguins in 7, Sharks in 6, Red Wings in 5, Blues in 7, Flames in 6.