Your Chicago Rooting Guide for the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

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Your Chicago Rooting Guide for the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Chicago Blackhawks

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have been electric so far in the first handful of games. Multiple overtimes, physical play and a battle in Florida that is must-see TV. But if you’re anything like me, without the Chicago Blackhawks in the postseason, it’s hard to choose which team to pull for. So after a few days of playoff hockey, here’s where the 16 teams in the postseason stand with reasons a Blackhawks fan should (or should not) root for them.

Colorado Avalanche

Reasons To Root For Them: The President’s trophy winners are heavy favorites to advance to the Stanley Cup Final Four and are one of the top teams to contend for the Stanley Cup. They are top to bottom built for playoff hockey. Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, they are full of must-see players.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: Colorado fleeced the Blackhawks in the Brandon Saad-Nikita Zadorov trade, but that’s less on the Avalanche than it is on the Blackhawks, honestly.

Chicago Connections: Brandon Saad, Dennis Gilbert, Carl Söderberg, J.T. Compher, T.J. Tynan

St. Louis Blues

Reasons To Root For Them: …I got nothing.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: They are the Blues.

Chicago Connections: None.

Vegas Golden Knights

Reasons To Root For Them: Like the Avalanche, they are heavy favorites in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Loaded top to bottom, it would be an incredible story to see Vegas make it back to the Stanley Cup Final and win their first Cup in franchise history just four years after becoming an NHL team.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: They just became an NHL team four years ago, they don’t know the longing for a Stanley Cup, even if they lost in the Final to the Capitals in 2018. I hate to be that guy, but come on, you can’t get everything you want right away, Vegas.

Chicago Connections: Mattias Janmark, Robin Lehner, Tomas Jurco, Dylan Sikura

Minnesota Wild

Reasons To Root For Them: They were one of the most entertaining teams in the NHL this season, which is weird to say for a historically bland Wild franchise. Led by rookie Kirill Kaprizov, the Wild have a real chance of upsetting the Golden Knights in round one.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: They call themselves the “State of Hockey” with zero Stanley Cups to their name. The arrogance is thick.

Chicago Connections: Ryan Hartman, Luke Johnson, Dakota Mermis

Carolina Hurricanes

Reasons To Root For Them: Where to start? The Storm Surge is one of the most fun things about hockey in a long time and the fact that it created the “Bunch of Jerks” moniker for the Hurricanes and they leaned right into it is incredible. The way the franchise conducts themselves is at the top of the league in my opinion and the Blackhawks could learn from their organization.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: Can’t think of one. They’re awesome.

Chicago Connections: Teuvo Teravainen, Joey Keane, Jaccob Slavin (brother of Josiah Slavin)

Nashville Predators

Reasons To Root For Them: Much like St. Louis, I’m drawing a blank here.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: Their affinity for meaningless banners, the mustard jerseys, blocking Illinois zip codes from purchasing tickets, boring, should I go on?

Chicago Connections: None.

Florida Panthers

Reasons To Root For Them: Joel Quenneville winning a Stanley Cup after being fired by the Blackhawks would be quite the sight to see and would really stick it to the front office, if you’re into that kind of masochism towards the Blackhawks.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: The Lightning just won the Cup last year and the Buccaneers just won the Super Bowl, we don’t need to see another boat parade in Florida.

Chicago Connections: Joel Quenneville, Gustav Forsling, Anthony Duclair, Lucas Wallmark

Tampa Bay Lightning

Reasons To Root For Them: They are stacked, fully and completely stacked with Steven Stamoks and Nikita Kucherov back in the lineup. Seeing a repeat Stanley Cup Champion is not something that comes around every day, especially in the modern era of the NHL. With the way the team has set themselves up, if they were to win this year, they could be a real contender for a three-peat.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: They just won and they are so stacked it’s almost unfair. Like, we get it, you’ve gamed the system. Congrats.

Chicago Connections: Jan Rutta.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Reasons To Root For Them: They haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967 and they are one of the cornerstone franchises in the NHL, whether they are at the top or the bottom of the league. Much like the Dallas Cowboys, they always have something to talk about and a Stanley Cup in Toronto, in Canada no matter what, but in Toronto for sure, would be the Canadian party of the century. Also, Joe Thornton winning his first Stanley Cup would be amazing.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: Much like the Cowboys, they ALWAYS are being talked about. It’s nauseating at times. Seeing the meltdown of the fan base and the Toronto media after having such a good team and not ending the year with raising the Cup would be incredible people-watching.

Chicago Connections: William Nylander (brother of Alex Nylander), Justin Holl

Montreal Canadiens

Reasons To Root For Them: The last Canadian team to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada back in 1993, the Canadiens would be another perfect candidate to throw the part of the century North of the border if they were to bring home the 2021 Stanley Cup.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: If the Maple Leafs are like the Cowboys, the Canadiens are like the Yankees of the NHL. They have an entitled fan base that loves to tout the fact that they have the most Cups in league history. We get it.

Chicago Connections: Phillip Danault, Michael Frolik, Erik Gustafsson

Winnipeg Jets

Reasons To Root For Them: Again, to see a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup would be a sight to see. It hasn’t happened since 1993 and there’s an entire generation of hockey fans in Canada that have yet to experience that. It would be made even better if a team could do it in front of fans in the stands, but that doesn’t appear to be the case North of the border. If it turns around in time, seeing the Jets “white-out” crowd atmosphere and lifting the Cup in front of them would be awesome. Plus, Blake Wheeler is an incredible team-leader.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: Of the four Canadian teams, the Jets are the most bland. They lack the gripping star-power in the league and cache that organizations like Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton have. Also, doing it without Dustin Byfuglien would feel wrong, even if he’s pretty much retired anyway.

Chicago Connections: None, other than the fact that Jonathan Toews is from Winnipeg.

Edmonton Oilers

Reasons To Root For Them: Connor F’ing McDavid. He’s the best player in the league and on the planet. Guy needs a Cup at least once in his career and with him and Leon Draisaitl playing at the level they are this season, if they can get competent goaltending, this might be the year the two-headed monster can make a run.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: In the spirit of utter chaos, think if the Oilers were bounced in the first-round and if McDavid thought maybe things won’t work out in Edmonton and wanted out? Can you imagine?

Chicago Connections: Dominik Kahun, Slater Koekkoek

Pittsburgh Penguins

Reasons To Root For Them: Sidney Crosby has been the face of the NHL for a long time and if he were to win a fourth Stanley Cup, it would solidify his legacy as the player that brought hockey back in the modern era. A legacy that is not in question, of course, but it would be more history happening before out eyes.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: Over the last decade-plus, it’s been the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks carrying the torch as top franchises in the league. Both won three Stanley Cups, the most in the modern era (2005-06) and a fourth would put the Penguins ahead of Chicago in that discussion. Also, wearing those yellow home sweaters is a travesty.

Chicago Connections: None.

New York Islanders

Reasons To Root For Them: Scrappy, underdog team that personifies the scrappy, underdog mentality of Long Islanders.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: I can’t think of one, they are kind of just there and would have to upset the Penguins to move the meter for me. They’re neutral in my mind.

Chicago Connections: Nick Leddy, Andrew Ladd

Boston Bruins

Reasons To Root For Them: They’re an exciting, stacked team that is always going to put on a show, whether you like them or not. A powerful mix of grit and skill.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: You really want Boston to keep winning? Also, they have Brad Marchand.

Chicago Connections: John Moore, Mike Reilly

Washington Capitals

Reasons To Root For Them: Just think, “Summer of Ovi 2.0” Who wouldn’t want that? Also, due to injury, former Blackhawks goaltender and Park Ridge, Illinois-native Craig Anderson has been placed into the starting goaltender role. Does he have a magical run in him to win his first Stanley Cup? That would be absolutely incredible.

Reasons To Not Root For Them: Tom Wilson. Tom Wilson. And Tom Wilson.

Chicago Connections: Michal Kempny, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Craig Anderson

There’s a few teams that make it really easy not to root for, like St. Louis and Nashville, but a lot of them have compelling storylines to follow and reasons to root for them. For my money, I’m going to see where the Carolina Hurricanes can go. They’ve been building a winner for a while now and I have a good feeling about this 2021 squad. Trust me, we’ve seen plenty of them as Blackhawks fans this season to know they are the real deal.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.