Which NHL Playoff Team Should You Root For?

Panther Parkway Playoff Preview

We’re hours away from puck drop for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and it donned on me (and on all around good guy Jameson Cooper) that there may be thousands and possibly millions of you readers out there who don’t have a vetted interest in a team this year. Your team may have not made it to the post-season, you could be a new fan or you could have amnesia…if that’s the case, thanks for reading and consult a physician immediately after reading this post. Whatever the reason may be, if you need to latch on to a team for the post-season then do I have a piece for you! There are 16 teams in this year’s post season, some are good, some are really good, some are really really really good and some are just OK. Let’s take a look at which team may be a good fit for you.

Anaheim Ducks

Do you like Disney movies about a scrappy gang of youths melded together by the bonds of teamwork, being poor, and national pride? If so then the Ducks could be the team you’re looking for. Don’t be confused by their captain’s lack of hair - he’s amazing at hockey and will not let you down if you’re looking for a deep playoff run. The kicker is 92 year Teemu Selanne, who is retiring at the end of these playoffs, so if you’re into nostalgia and crying then you’re on the right path.

Boston Bruins

Nobody in their right mind should cheer for the Bruins so if you’re not in your right mind you can cheer for them I guess. Also I hate you.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been the toast of the NHL for a while now. If you’re that person who wants instant gratification then hitch your horse to the wagon and hang on for dear life. If you’re the person who has never seen a Rocky movie, watches Rocky 4 ,and then tells everyone that you love every Rocky movie then cheer for the Blackhawks.

Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche is made up from a group of young players with an excessive amount of high-end dynamic talent. Players like Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene (injured, but still), Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny, will surely make your eyes pop out of your head. They’re also coached by a crazy person. Their playoff hashtag is #whynotus so if you’re into innovative playoff hashtags you might want to look elsewhere for a team to support.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets have made the playoffs for the 2nd time in their history. Good for them right? If you like an underdog and or jokes about fellatio then you should fit right in with this fanbase. The Blue Jackets are this year’s working class blue-collar team so if you get a kick out of those Ford F-150 commercials where the announcer is pretty much reading everything on the screen, then go ahead and cheer for the Jackets.

Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn, best player by far, has led his Stars to the last playoff spot in the West. I’m sure all of Texas is behind them but if you feel like hootin’ and hollerin’ and ho-downin’ and other Texas slangs then hop right on this chuck wagon!

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has made the playoffs 23 years in a row. They have won only 4 Stanley Cups in that span, so if you like high winning percentages, then don’t root for the Red Wings. If you like Sweden, rookies, cool breakaway moves and great coaching then they may be right up your alley.

Los Angeles Kings

All of LA’s top C list celebrities are totally into the Kings so if you want to head to Staples Center and snap a selfie with Matthew Perry then you’re in the right ballpark. The Kings are a team that Wayne Gretzky used to play for so if you want to impress your friends with that bit of trivia when explaining your fandom then wear that silver and black.

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is the self-proclaimed “State of Hockey” which would be accurate if Michigan, New York, New Jersey, California, Missouri, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania all didn’t have hockey teams too. Liars.

Montreal Canadiens

Montreal has won the most Stanley Cups out of any NHL franchise with 24. They haven’t won one since 1993 so if you’re looking to get on board with a group of self-entitled history-clutching crazies, who are desperately waiting to see a cup win in their lifetime then mon ami/e you are knocking at the right door. Poutine is fantastic too, that should be good enough.

New York Rangers

The Rangers are one of three teams in New York (keep thinking of that third one). They’re like the Yankees if the Yankees have only won 4 World Series ever and haven’t won one since 1994 and the one before that was in 1940. If you like not having lofty expectations met then go put on a blue shirt.

Philadelphia Flyers

They sing America the Beautiful instead of the Star Spangled Banner so if you like alternate forms of patriotism then cheer for the Flyers. They’re also historically violent, made the Red Army team refuse to play against them because of it and their fans have the reputation of being a-holes. If this made you mad then you’re probably a Flyers fan already.

Pittsburgh Penguins

If you like cheering for the best at anything then step right up and feast your eyes on Sidney Crosby. Supporting the best hockey player in the world is reason enough to cheer for the Penguins and fans have been doing just that since 2005. I’d like to point out that former arguably best player in the world Mario Lemieux partly owns the team and will be shown frequently on TV throughout these playoffs so if you like passing torches from generation to generation then grab a Pens jersey and get ready to be disappointed by Marc Andre Fleury.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup and have the unfortunate reputation of being “playoff chokers.” If you like great teams with great players then cheer for the Sharks. If you like teal then cheer for the Sharks. If you like the Jaws theme song then cheer for the Sharks. If you want to get offended every time someone mentions the word “choke” then sheer for the Sharks. If you want to be part of their first cup win then don’t cheer for the Sharks because they’re kind of chokers.

St. Louis Blues

Another team without a Cup win ever. A lot of people don’t like the Blues so if you’re a fan of being the outcast who sticks up for their team no matter what horrible thing they do that makes everyone else angry then cheer for the Blues. American almost hero Ryan Miller is their starting goalie. You probably heard of him a few years ago.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Led by elite sniper Steven Stamkos for now, the Lightning are one of those cool teams that doesn’t end in an S. If you like the Oklahoma City Thunder then DEFINITELY cheer for the Lightning because then you can make your twitter handle @ThunderandLightning and you’ll be really cool.

By now you should have a team that suits you perfectly. If you’re still undecided, then refresh this page and read the post again. Go Hockey Go, enjoy the playoffs folks.

GIF: Ryan O’Reilly Puts on a Show in LA

On a team overflowing with talented young scorers, 22-year-old forward Ryan O’Reilly did his best to standout on Saturday afternoon as the Avalanche visited the Kings in sunny Los Angeles.

Down 2-1 midway through the 3rd period, O’Reilly used his soft hands and exceptional awareness to shoot a puck over the shoulder of Kings’ netminder Martin Jones to tie the game at two. Martin, who is currently one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL, was seemingly frozen by the nifty moves and slick finishing touch that O’Reilly unleashed upon him.

Also given front row seats to the O’Reilly show were Kings’ players Anze Kopitar and Robyn Regehr who helplessly watched as the the young Colorado forward had his way with their goaltender.

Gif courtesy of Fox Sports

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Video: Watch Dmitry Kulikov Hip Check Nathan MacKinnon

It’s Saturday night and the Florida Panthers are celebrating.

In the midst of yet another tumultuous season, the Panthers earned a much needed victory on Saturday as they defeated a formidable Colorado Avalanche team by a final score of 4-1. From start to finish, the team put together one of their most complete games of the season as they were finally able to play a full sixty minutes of exceptional hockey.

With a rare 3-1 lead midway through the 3rd period of Saturday night’s action, the Panthers refused to ease off the gas and continued to put pressure on Avalanche skaters. From smart plays to physicality, the Panthers displayed everything that fans had hoped to see heading into this season.

One Panther in particular who was happy to get back on the right track was defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. With just over a quarter of the 2013-2014 season in the books, Kulikov had been playing some of the worst hockey of his career until tonight’s game. However, like the rest of the team, Kulikov came out against the Avalanche looking like a completely different player than we were accustomed to up until this point. Playing one of his most energetic and physical games of the year, Kulikov finished the night tied for the team lead in hits with 3, including this fantastic hip-check on Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon.

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Quick Preview: Panthers vs. Avalanche. Climbing Mountains Isn’t Easy




The Florida Panthers are in Colorado this evening for the second game of this five game Western Conference road swing.  Game one ended up as many of them have this season for the Panthers.  A loss.  It was a well fought game by the Panthers after the first period, which they may not have known  started.  Therein lies the problem for this team as another slow start doomed them for the balance of the game.

Tonight in a city where altitude always plays havoc with team, could cause another slow start, but could also prevent the Cats from getting started all together.  Florida is the only Eastern Conference team that hasn’t won five games yet, which is not good company to be in.  In addition, they haven’t scored more than three goals since Oct. 11, which is a 15-game span. Their 2.05 goals per game ranks 26th, and their league-worst power play is converting just 8.7 percent of its chances.  To make matters worse, the Panthers rank 28th in the league in goals against giving up 3.30 per game.

It’s obvious that the defence still needs to tighten up, but until they power play gets going and converts chances, Florida is going to struggle, especially in one goal games.  Playing a full 60 minutes is paramount at this point, but we’ve said that more than enough already.  The Panthers have fallen behind in five straight games, which no matter how you slice it, is a recipe for disaster.

Colorado on the other hand started off hot, and has cooled just a bit as they hope to end a modest two game losing streak tonight.  The Avs have won three in a row at home against the Panthers, including their last meeting January 18, 2012 when Colorado won 4-3.  Matt Duchene leads the Avalanche in goals with 12 and points with 20, and he has 11 points in his last 9 games played.

We anticipate newly acquired Jimmy Hayes to make his Panther debut tonight.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

GIF: Sidney Crosby Breaks Nathan Mackinnon

News Flash! Sidney Crosby is still very good…very, very, good.

Currently leading the NHL in almost all important offensive categories, Crosby was unable to break Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Monday night as the veteran netminder led the Avalanche to a 1-0 victory over the usually explosive Penguins’ offense. However, even though he wasn’t able to crack the score sheet, Crosby was able to crack something else - Nathan Mackinnon’s ankles.

In .gif below, Mackinnon, 18,  earned one of his first “welcome to the NHL moments” as he found out that keeping up with one of the NHL’s best may be harder than it looks.

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The Panthers’ 1996 Stanley Cup Intro Video Is As 90’s As It Gets

Ah 1996, a time when “FoxTrax” was going to revolutionize the way we watch hockey and every kid’s dream was to climb the Aggro Crag in hopes of attaining Nickelodean immortality. Just the thought of the mid-90’s can invoke thoughts of Happy Gilmore, Jnco Jeans, and the Spice Girls invading the United States. A decade in which trends came and went in record time, nothing was safe from the passing fads of the 90’s - not even the Florida Panthers.

Fueled by Surge and banging their war drums to the beat of the Macarena, the Panthers were able to reach the Stanley Cup Finals in just their third year of existence. Below, you will find the team’s very 90’s Stanley Cup intro video - complete with Don Cherry not enjoying that “hey mack-ar-eena stuff”.


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Florida Panthers To Host Draft Party At The BB & T Center June 30th!

With the anticipation of the number two overall pick in this year’s upcoming player draft the Florida Panthers will be hosting a draft party at One Panther Parkway, otherwise known as the BB & T Center.  This is a change from recent years as the organization typically held these events at one the the many Duffy’s Sports Grill restaurants.

WQAM and host Kevin Rogers will be breadcasting live along with TV color analyst Billy Lindsay and a Florida Panther player to be named (later).  The Panthers are scheduled to draft second behind the Colorado Avalanche, however there has been talk that the Avalanche and their new coach former goaltender Patrick Roy may be interested in trading that pick.  There have also been indications that general manager Dale Tallon is exploring his options as well.  All of this is speculation at this point and nothing will be known for sure until each team is scheduled to take the podium. 

For the complete announcement of the days events please click here.

The crew of Panther Parkway plans on being in attendance, and if you’re lucky we may even do a live podcast for a portion of the day.

We look forward to seeing you there.

In the meantime, enjoy the balance of the post season.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: me @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Josh Luecht @eyesonsunrise, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman,  Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.


Why The Colorado Avalanche Need To Select A Defenseman At The Draft

Photo Source: @MikeDarnay Seth Jones Photoshop

Photo Source: @MikeDarnay Seth Jones Photoshop

As fans eagerly await the arrival of the next generation of talented skaters at the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry draft, General Managers and scouts from the bottom 3 teams of the 2013 season are working overtime evaluating this year’s projected top 3 picks - D Seth Jones, C Nathan MacKinnon, and C/RW Jonathan Drouin. After finishing the regular season with the worst overall record in the NHL, the Florida Panthers bad luck continued as the Colorado Avalanche (who finished with the 2nd worst record) leap frogged them in the newly revamped NHL Draft Lottery.

After the dust had settled at the draft lottery, the top 3 picks went to the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lighting in that order. In other words, the collective destiny of both the Panthers and Lightning now rest in the hands of the Colorado Avalanche as their course of action with the first overall pick will surely shape how the rest of the first round plays out.

Luckily for both the Avalanche and the Panthers, the current players slated to go #1 and #2 in this year’s draft could both make an immediate impact on their respective clubs. Although, while each team could potentially grab a bona-fide NHL ready player, each team’s specific needs could play a huge role in their selections as both teams look to build a future Stanley Cup Contender.

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The Chicago Blackhawks. Just What The NHL Needed

The video above is one of my favorite memories of The Streak.

They say all good things come to an end, and last night one good thing did as the Chicago Blackhawks and their historic streak came to a crashing halt at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche.  The 2012-2013  NHL season started on January 19th, 2013 more than 100 days late due to a lockout which was the second we’ve seen in a decade.  Irritated fans all across North America and Europe had been disgusted with the process, and needed something to rejuvenate their interest once the season began.  Whether you’re a fan of the Blackhawks or not, they gave you that something.  A modern day run in sports like no other that saw the Hawks have the best start in NHL history by reeling off points in 24 consecutive games.  A record of 21-0-3, grabbing 45 out of a possible 48 points.  The only other NHL team to have a better stretch was the 1978-1979 Philadelphia Flyers who during the season went 35 consecutive games without a loss going 25-0-10.  The major difference during that era, was that there were no overtimes.  When a game ended in a tie, it was over.  It was still a tremendous accomplishment as well.

What the Blackhawks did for hockey however was similar to what Cal Ripken Jr did for Baseball back in 1995, when on September 6th of that year, Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak at 2,131 games.  The streak which took Cal 14 years to break came on the heals of a major league baseball strike that lasted from August 22nd, 1994 to April 2nd, 1995.  Similar to the NHL lockout of this season, thousands of fans walked away from the game of baseball never to return.  For those that didn’t walk away, Ripken gave a reason to watch.  There is no comparison to these two sports since they are so vastly different, but there is a comparison to the actual events, and what they’ve done respectively for their fans.  Even ESPN the sports mega network that has virtually tossed the NHL aside,  jumped on the bandwagon to include Blackhawks’ highlights on a nightly basis.  Point being, is that this consecutive point streak caught everyone’s attention, and has almost made you forget there was a lockout.

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