This presents a dilemma for the common Blues fan - which playoff team's bandwagon do I join now? What games can I watch and still maintain some sort of rooting interest? Well, here's your chance to pool your preferences with the others, and see if we can put Game Time's official stamp on someone else's playoff run (or, Kiss of Death might be more likely).
Here are the teams that are moving on to the second round, and some arguments pro and con:
In the West:
PRO: If you want a team that's easily justifiable, this would be it. The best record in the Western Conference this year, with good depth and balance throughout the lineup. Everybody's contributing. Also, there's St Louis kid Pat Maroon, already with 3 points in 4 games with the Ducks. It'd be nice to see something from the Lou go deep into the playoffs. Also, Bruce Boudreau has won at every level except the NHL, so it'd be nice for him to complete that collection.
CON: Corey Perry? ... ewww. Ryan Kesler? Wait, is it an Olympic year? No? Ok, fuck that guy.
PRO: This might be one of the more charming stories of the entire season. Before the regular season, all of the pundits were counting them out. Young, inexperienced, and a general hodge-podge of talent, Calgary was considered on the upswing, but "not nearly there yet". But they Just. Kept. Winning. Ah, but their underlying numbers aren't very good, it's unsustainable. Nope, Still Winning. Ah, but their best defenseman is lost to injury, that'll slow them down. Nope, Still Winning. Ok, great, they made the postseason. Surely they'll run into stiffer opposition and collapse. Nope ... Still Winning. Another St Louis kid here, with Brandon Bollig. If he won another Cup, it would probably piss off a few Chicago fans. Also, there are former Blues players Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell to cheer for. Also also, Matt Stajan has overcome some personal tragedy, so it'd be cool to see something nice come his way.
CON: No matter how many wins they've compiled, they will be the underdog throughout the postseason. It'll be an uphill battle all the way. Their possession numbers aren't that great, and there's a chance that they'll fall to earth at any moment. Latch on to these guys, and you might have to pick another team to cheer for in the next round. After all, the Blues swept the season series 3-0 against the Flames, outscoring them 12-2. How good can they be?
PRO: You almost want the team that eliminated your team to do well. If they win it all, at least you can say "yeah, but we lost to the Cup champions". It softens the blow a little, right? Also, the Wild beat the Blues fair and square; there wasn't much in the way of dirty hits or tricks pulled in that series. Even their fans were pretty nice to me. Good on them. The shared struggles of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise this year surely earns some sympathy. It'd be nice to see their season have a happy ending. There are former Blues like Jordan Leopold and Chris Stewart (and Nate Prosser, kinda sorta) to cheer for. There's the family tradition of Brett Sutter to consider, and of course the magical season of Devan Dubnyk.
CON: or, if you're not a fan of Chris Stewart, then that would be a con. And I'm still not sold on Matt Cooke (2.0 or otherwise). Fuck That Guy as well. While we're cool with most of the Wild fanbase, I can only imagine how insufferable the "State Of Hockey" would become with a Cup win.
PRO: It's hard to deny that they are the perennial powerhouse in the postseason. With the star power and the clutch scoring of HAHAHAHAH ... no, sorry ... I just can't finish that. Scott Darling has a cool story, and Kimmo Timonen is someone I have a lot of respect for. But, that's about it.
CON: Really? Who doesn't want to dickslap Shaw and/or Carcillo? Really?
In the East:
PRO: Isn't it about time that the Caps make a dent in the postseason? With all of the firepower of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, shouldn't they already have a Cup? Maybe this is their year. It'd be awesome to remove the "yes, but no Cup" from the Ovie/Crosby comparisons. I'm a big fan of coach Barry Trotz, so he's easy to cheer for. The Caps fanbase are long-suffering also, so there's good reason to cheer for them. It'd be cool to see Joel Ward get some playoff success as well. He's a gritty guy with great hands also. Who doesn't want to see what Ovechkin's day with the Cup is like?
CON: The Ovechkin hype machine will only get louder and more obnoxious with a Cup win. Do they even have enough space in the Verizon Center for a Cup banner, what with all the Southeast Division Winner ones? We finally rid ourselves of the Vancouver Green Men, do we have to now put up with the "Brouwer Rangers"? Ugh.
PRO: They almost won it all last year, so it's not hard to see them getting to the Final again. If you want to latch onto a team with potential, this would be a good choice. Of course, the handsomest man in the league, Henrik Lundqvist is a worthy netminder to cheer for. He's dreamy. They are a good team that's fun to watch. This is your only chance to see the headline "St Louis wins the Stanley Cup" come to reality, even if it's just Martin that they're talking about.
CON: Rick Nash ... sorry, man. I should probably like you now, since you've left Columbus. But ... I just can't. I tried, once. Once. The Hobbit, Mats Zuccarello, is a player you love on your team, but hate anywhere else. He's not on my team, so screw him. Also, a deep run by the Rangers just reinforces the east-coast media bias.
PRO: Another fun team to watch, with terrific goaltending. Carey Price is a funny dude, and a magician in the net. Why not cheer for former Blue Mike Weaver, and almost-Blue Lars Eller? Then there's P.K. Subban, a beast on the blueline. You know the Bell Centre is going to have an amazing atmosphere as the Habs get deeper into the playoffs. They are steeped in history that's easy to appreciate.
CON: Of course, the Canadiens love their drama. Whether it's a controversial hit, or a playoff advancement or elimination, there's going to be crazy stuff going on. They also have a corner on the obnoxiousness market, so a win there will be trumpeted everywhere. If they should lose, though, keep an eye on twitter account @MontrealCopCar.
PRO: It's always a fun time when a "non-traditional market" goes deep into the playoffs, and especially when it's on the back of an "Original 6" Canadian team, eh? You can root for former Blues player Brenden Morrow, but you know it's really all about Ben Bishop (St Louis kid AND former Blue). How can you NOT love that? The Bolts have advanced, despite the fact that Steven Stamkos hasn't performed well yet. Can you imagine what happens when things start clicking for him?
CON: I can't cheer wholeheartedly for a team led by GM Steve Yzerman. Not to mention, how bad it would suck for a team founded in 1992 winning their second Cup, when the Blues are still waiting on their first. Do they even know to boo Bettman properly? Stamkos might be hurt, explaining his lack of production. Of 15 goals scored by the Bolts, 6 are by Tyler Johnson and 0 are from Stamkos. While they have other exciting youngsters to watch, it's just not the same without him.
Well, there you go. Take your pick, and announce your reasons down below. I'm sure you'll come up with a few (hundred) things that I didn't mention. Let's see what the commentariat decides. Remember, it's not about who you think will win, but rather who you want to see win.