By Mike Laybourne; Originally published at The4thLinePodcast.com
As a Detroit Red Wings fan, I came to the crushing realisation that my team would not be in the Stanley Cup playoffs some time ago, well, October. Now that the regular season is over and I’ve no horse in this race, I need something to keep my interest piqued. In the proud tradition of the 4th Line Podcast, I need a bandwagon team.
To decide which team gets my support, I’ll look at each contender with the ultimate aim of finding a team I can throw my emotions into, for a few weeks at least.
Tampa Bay Lightning & Columbus Blue Jackets
This series is a match-up between Tampa, favourites to win the cup and Columbus, who are probably the favourite underdog. Applying the irrational feelings of a wounded sports fan, I want to see the Cup stay in the Atlantic division, and I don’t want to spend the next two months watching John Tortorella shouting at people.
Winner – Tampa Bay Lightning
Boston Bruins & Toronto Maple Leafs
I don’t want either team to win this. The Toronto media and Twitter is unbearable at the best of times, so the city would go into absolute meltdown if the team won a few games. However, the Leafs are playing Boston, and if you’ve ever listened to the show, you’ll know that I can could never support the Bruins.
Winner, reluctantly – Toronto Maple Leafs
Washington Capitals & Carolina Hurricanes
Current champs vs the most fun team in the league. The Hurricanes have taken a lot of flack this season for their extravagant celebrations, but as already documented, I’m a big fan of this and I want to see it continue all the way through the playoffs. The Caps are always great to watch and we all have a lot of love for Braden Holtby, but there’s an easy winner in this tilt…
Winner – Carolina Hurricanes
New York Islanders & Pittsburgh Penguins
I don’t really care about either of these teams, but I can do without the play-by-play micro-analysis of Sidney Crosby. Besides Matt from Reasons Are Several is an Isles fan and that’s the most enthusiasm I can muster for this match-up.
Winner – New York Islanders
Tampa Bay & Toronto – This isn’t even a contest for me. Go Bolts.
Carolina & New York – Bring the storm surge.
Tampa Bay & Carolina – I’m sticking with the Atlantic for this one. The Lightning go to the Bandwagon Stanley Cup Final.
Nashville Predators & Dallas Stars
While part of me wants the Preds to win this cup, this is only so Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin can laugh in Jim Lites’ face. Aside from that it’s not Dallas’ year, whereas the Preds are a lot of fun to watch. I’d rather see Nashville progress through the competition.
Winner – Nashville Predators
Winnipeg Jets & St. Louis Blues
When the St. Louis Blues joined the NHL, they went to a lot of Stanley Cup finals, and won none of them. To this day, the team is still yet to win the Lord’s mug. Having been the underdog for over half a decade, I’m rooting for the Blues, but only in this match-up. I’ve nothing against the Jets, but I just have no interest in them either.
Winner – St. Louis Blues
Calgary Flames & Colorado Avalanche
The Flames have been exceeding expectations all season and look like the only team in the tourney capable of bringing the Stanley Cup back the Canada for the first time in a million years. The Avalanche however have danced around the wildcard and playoffs places all season all season, yet at times didn’t look like a playoff team at all. The Avs truly are the underdog in the west and I love an underdog story. Podcast host and friend Carl is of course a Colorado fan, but despite all of that, I’m still a Detroit fan and if I were to support the Avs, I’d have to surrender my Detroit jerseys in shame. Podcast host Nick would probably never speak to me again too. #LGRW #rivals.
Winner – Calgary Flames
San Jose Sharks & Vegas Golden Knights
Don’t really care who wins this one. But for the sake of the bracket I’m going with Vegas because I tossed a coin and they won.
Winner – Vegas Golden Knights
Nashville & St. Louis – The Preds go through, they’re a blast to watch.
Calgary & Vegas – Let’s give Canada a chance.
Nashville & Calgary – I’m all for the Flames winning this match-up as it’s possible that we’ll have a rematch of the 2003-04 Stanley Cup Finals between the Flames and the Lightning, so…
The Bandwagon Team Is…
The Tampa Bay Lightning. Let’s keep the Cup in the Atlantic.