As I noted at some point during a drunken haze last week (or the week before or whatever), I am not the world's most rational person when it comes to rooting for and against sports teams. In the NHL playoffs, for instance, I find myself more often than not rooting against someone and therefore rooting for another team by default. While there are times when we hope that a coin flip on who to root for somehow ends up with the quarter landing perfectly on it's edge (the cosmic equivalent of rooting for 'meteor' when the Blackhawks play the Red Wings) most of the time I can find a reason enough to dislike one team to become a fan of the other, at leats for a week or two.
All that said, here is a peek inside the swampland known as my brain to see who I'm rooting
for against in the second round.
Starting in the East (a.k.a. the conference I'll end up rooting for in the Finals)....
- I realize there is a backlash building against the Pens due to the over-the-top Crosby love in the NHL MediaMonster and the fact that the Penguins have been overexposed for a couple years now, but the East killed itself in the first round and I need to have a team waiting on this side of the NHL that can take on and beat a team from the West based in the upper Midwest should either of them happen to get to the Finals. Admit it, Pen bashers: you'd rather see them win again and go through even more nobslobbing of that team than see either Detroit or Chicago win.
- I'm an underdog kind of guy, but seriously, who are most of these guys on the Candiens?
- Plus, if you think the fanbases of Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh are annoying, wait until you see what happens if the Habs win the Cup. It'll be like the Yankees joined the NHL what with all of the stories and bragging about the most championships business.
- Remember that great plan we had where the Blues were going to make a run at Jaroslav Halak this summer? Yeah, that's only getting tougher if he keeps winning in the playoffs. Sure, we can switch to Plan B and go after carey Price, but the whole thing goes a lot easier if the Candiens get knocked out sooner rather than later.
- Look, the Flyers are totally fucked with Brian Boucher in net. Everyone knows this; it was written on a prehistoric cave wall. That said, I like the way that teams is built. If the Flyers can find a good goalie to play in net for a whole year without melting down or getting hurt then they'll be very dangerous for years to come. If I'm rooting for the Pens I might as well root for the Flyers because a Battle of Pennsylvania conference final is guaranteed to be fun to watch.
- Mike Richards is hockey. I said it last time and I'll say it again (because I'm right): this kid is awesome. He's barely 25 years old, the captain of his team, a guy who hits, fights and holds people accountable. He scores goals, sets up his teammates, comes through in the clutch and he gets better in the playoffs. He's had 30-plus goals each of the last two seasons and this year has 12 points in seven playoff games. If this guy was wearing a Bluenote we'd already be talking about what his bronze statue would look like.
- I've watched the first two games and that Tuukka Rask guy is the goods too. How do Toronto fans sleep at night knowing he was traded away for Andrew Raycroft. This guy almost made me want to root for Boston except for the fact that rooting for a goalie is just weird.
And now for the West (which couldn't be easier to pick)....
- Kirk Maltby looks funny when he's whining and his team is getting all the breaks. He looks funny and pathetic when he's whining and his team is getting eliminated.
- Pretty much never get tired of seeing "wave of the future" defenseman Jonathan Ericsson blow coverage and wind up fishing the puck out of the net again.
- Todd Bertuzzi is an anchor of a player, his skills long since diminished and his bad karma long since pegged. The hockey gods hate this guy and, thankfully for us, he's wearing a wheel with a wing attached to it on his jersey.
- When the Fear The Fin guys came to town and we attempted to get them drunk before taking them to their way-too-dangerous hotel on the north side, I was stunned to see the artist formerly known as Mr. K wearing a Joe Pavelski jersey. Now I understand.
- I realize that I spent the last round rooting against the Sharks mainly because of Dany Heatley. I went from liking him as a young player to feeling sorry for him to thinking he was kind of a douche to thinking, yes, definitely, he is a total douche. In this case I'm rooting for his team but hoping he has nothing to do with the wins. Crazy? Probably. Do I care? Nope.
- I've never really liked Joe Thornton but have always liked "Just Smelled A Fart" Patrick Marleau. I guess I'll find a way to pretend Marleau is more fun than he is and that Thornton is more exciting than he is.
- Evgeni Nabokov always seems to let in weird goals at weird times, but always seems to play great against the Blues. Look, Twitchy, I'm willing to let bygones be bygones if you can wipe out the Wings before your inevitable playoff meltdown.
- Nothing is funnier than to watch the Red Wings lose and then have coverage cut to longtime Wing asshat Darren McCarty in possibly the most uncomfortable looking suit on the set of the Versus network NHL desk and watch him try to be objective and talk about what the Sharks did right and the Wings did wrong. Thank you, hockey gods.
- If Todd Bertuzzi and Dany Heatley are full to the brim with bad hockey karma then Marian Hossa is a karma black hole, not just apparent due to his absence of light but also because he sucks any good karma in an organization right into his physics-defying non-entity. I can't wait to put together the montage of three consecutive years of pictures of Hossa near tears in three different jerseys.
- I'll do what I have to on this series. I'll pretend that the Sedin twins aren't creepy (they are) and I'll pretend that Alexander Burrows isn't an annoying prick (he is) and I'll pretend that Ryan Kesler is the kind of guy we should root for (he is not). I'm doing my part, Vancouver, now it's time for you to do your part: beat the Hawks.
- The only thing funnier than Red Wings fans being disappointed by their team has got to be Blackhawks fans being disappointed. I can't wait to see it and sooner is better than later.