The Playoff Picture: What Should Leafs Fans Hope For?

JP Nikota
March 15 2012 10:34AM

 

 

For some, it might seem too soon to give up on the Leafs' playoff hopes, but I, for one, have already begun musing about which teams I may wind up choosing for after April 7th has come and gone.

You see, those of us for whom one team is enough to cheer for, deciding which other playoff-bound team is the least dispicable can often be a daunting chore. For every great player to cheer for, there's a scumbag on the team to cheer against - Sidney Crosby and Matt Cooke, Alex Ovechkin and Alex Ovechkin.

If the playoffs started today, who could we cheer for in round one?

Eastern Conference

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 Both of these teams are quite close in terms of likability for me, but I'm going to cheer for the Rangers. Any team that plays Washington has got to be at serious risk of an upset, but ultimately, I think that the best team should be available should Ottawa actually make it to the second round. Also, if it comes down to one of these two teams or Boston, I'd rather cheer for the team with the best record in the East than hope for an upset.

At the end of the day, I wouldn't mind seeing either team go all the way - even if that's an unlikely scenario for Washington.
 

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See above the jump for an artist's rendition of what a good Boston - Ottawa series would look like for Leafs fans.
 
Thank baby Jesus that the B's have finally cooled off from their mid-season rampage of the NHL. Hopefully, if the meteor doesn't come, Daniel Alfredsson simply turns into dust.
 

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I have to cheer for New Jersey, here. Being a Leafs fan, I am naturally inclined to take the position of the underdog, but in this case, the underdog would actually be the team with home-ice advantage. Moreover, that mouthguard-chewing Kris Versteeg has flourished in Florida exactly the way that Leafs fans had hoped he would in Toronto. Also, Florida continues to employ Scott Clemmensen, who has never, while playing for or against Toronto, brought us the results we'd hoped for. Lastly, if one of these teams has to beat Ottawa, I want to be able to put my money on New Jersey. New Jersey currently has the 29th lowest PDO, and could potentially be on an up-swing soon.
 

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I'll admit it. I enjoy watching Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play. The Flyers? Claude Giroux is without a doubt a wonderful player, but they really don't have players that are as entertaining on the ice. (Sergei Bobrovsky lovers note that I said "on the ice".)
 
The Penguins have been on fire for quite some time (despite a low PDO), and look like they have re-emerged as very strong Stanley Cup contenders. If one of these teams is charged with beating Ottawa, I want it to be Pittsburgh.
 
Also, I think I could deal with another Pittsburgh Cup win. 
 

Western Conference

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It's cool to see a team other than Detroit, Chicago, or Vancouver doing so well. What the heck - GO BLUES! We'll have plenty of time to hate them later. Of course, the Blues have a league-high PDO of 103.05, so this mid-season castle may indeed be made of sand.

If the Sharks manage to put together a good run this season, I'd like to think it would help silence the 'playoff chokers' theme once and for all. I wouldn't be upset if they won, either.

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I can't quite put my finger on why it is that I can't cheer for the Canucks. They have some of the finest players in the game on their team - I love watching the Sedins pass - and a pair of great golies. Outside of the Bruins, the Canucks probably even have the best goaltending tandem in the league. They're fun to watch, but somehow, they're also easy to hate.

The Coyotes, on the other hand, have a certain "never-say-die" story that I can't help but find appealing. Everyone expected them to have moved by now, everyone expected them to have completely fallen apart without Ilya Bryzgalov, and no one knew what the heck Dave Tippett was going to do with this rag-tag bunch. Somehow, they're still right in the playoff mix. Although I don't exactly have high hopes (especially since they have the third-highest PDO in the league), go 'Yotes.

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This one is more or less a toss-up for me, having no ill will towards either Dallas or Chicago. If Vancouver were to make it to the second round, I'd love to see them lose to Chicago, but that's about it.

For the moment, the Hawks currently have the third-lowest PDO in the league, and could be set to rebound just at the right time.

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Is everyone else as sick of Detroit as I am? I hope Radulov comes back and absolutely lights it up for the Predators. I'd be OK with Nashville winning a Cup, I think. They've been competitive for a long time, but just haven't been able to put things together in the post-season. A small-market win might be bad news as far as the NHL is concerned, but it'd be cool if hockey could gain more prominence after ownership has been so good for so long.

Potential Cup Wins That Cause The Most Nausea

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#1 A. Bates
March 15 2012, 10:52AM
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Nashville all the way.

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#2 RexLibris
March 15 2012, 01:05PM
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That's pretty funny.

I can empathize to some degree, being out west and watching so many teams succeed while my Oilers sit at the bottom of the fish tank again.

That being said, the only team on your nausea list that I'll disagree with is Detroit. They are a class organization and, at least in the salary cap era, I hold no grudges for their franchise's stability.

I actually like Ottawa, but when speaking to a Leafs fan, I know better than to say too much on that right now.

I was cheering for Boston last spring, but I don't really want a repeat this year. Vancouver could do with another 40 year drought for all I'm concerned because of the classless way that team and organization has handled itself these past few seasons. Philadelphia I have always disliked, because of their style of play and the tendencies of their owner, so no love lost there.

My list of nausea would probably be: 1. Calgary (big surprise) 2. Vancouver 3. Boston 4. Philadelphia 5. Rangers

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#3 John Lofranco
March 15 2012, 05:56PM
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I am pretty much on board with these. I do like Detroit, and if Philly wins, that's ok. NO SENS NO all the way.

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#4 Alex_S1
March 16 2012, 08:15AM
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Agree with the above, except for as a Leaf fan I can't cheer for New Jersey (unless they play the Sens). To many bad memories of playoff runs stopped at the hands of Martin Brodeur.

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#5 fucifer
March 16 2012, 04:11PM
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I agree with most of what you say but I'd rather Philly win than Pittsburgh.

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