With the Red Wings missing the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, fans are suddenly left with a void going into the NHL’s post-season. Most of us don’t even remember what an NHL post-season is like without a Detroit Red Wings appearance. But don’t panic – there is still some really good hockey to watch! With the Wings out of the picture, we’ve asked our staff what they are looking forward in this year’s NHL playoffs.
In the playoffs, though I can’t say I directly root for the Wings (it’s not too hard to find who I support), there’s quite a bit to look forward into the playoffs whether or not my team makes it.
The Wings aren’t in it and that’s unfortunate, but there’s tons of fun storylines this year.
Connor McDavid? The first year in forever of the league’s love-hate team in the Oilers back in the playoffs? Is this the year Ovechkin does it? My money’s on the field, but he’s got a heck of a supporting cast this go-around. Can the Penguins repeat? Can Carey Price will a team to the Cup by themselves? Will the Sharks win it all? Are the Blue Jackets and the Wild for real?
I don’t really know what’ll go on this year, but it’ll be a couple wild months of action.
I don’t like this.
I don’t like being asked what I’m looking forward to seeing since the Wings aren’t in the playoffs. Other people keep saying that it’s kind of nice to be able to watch without the nerves of your team playing, and I get that, but I still don’t like it.
That said, I am looking forward to seeing what the Penguins can accomplish. I know that’s not something I’m supposed to say as a Wings fan, but it’s true. My brother has been a Pens fan since like 1994 or something ridiculous. He even has a Peter Skudra jersey for some reason… So I’ve grown up watching them almost as much as Detroit.
Going into the post-season last year I felt like the Pens were somehow being underrated. I kind of get the same feeling this year. They will be without Kris Letang, which is a huge handicap, but it sounds like most of their other injured players will be back in time for the playoffs. They’ve got Crosby, who is without doubt the best player in the world. They have a fantastic corps of young defensemen. They’ve got Malkin. They’ve got tons of playoff experience. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see Pittsburgh lift the cup again this year.
Plus, as someone who lives in Toronto, I LOVE seeing (Stanley Cup Champion Phil) Kessel win things.
As someone whose seen their team make the playoffs just once, but is really into fantasy hockey, I find I’ll usually end up rooting for the teams that have players that I drafted or picked or even just teams who I have winning in my bracket challenge. It’s a great way to still have someone to cheer on, without the crushing disappointment if they lose. I also tend to focus more on certain teams or players as the playoffs wind down and their are only 2-4 teams left. Last year, it was Phil Kessel, the year before, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the case of this year, there certainly is no lack of that either. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how Subban performs on Nashville, while I’m also interested in if Washington can finally do the thing, or if San Jose can win one before Thornton is gone. Obviously, as a Leafs fan, I’m interested in the Leafs at this moment, but as time winds down, I’ll probably look to those stories for rooting interests.
There’s something to look forward to in a post-season without the Red Wings?
Jokes aside, there is going to be a lot of good hockey on in the next few months. Every year I look forward to watching playoff hockey whether the Wings are in it or not. It’s fast, tough, exhausting, and exciting. Really though, I’m most looking forward to not stressing in April. Normally, I’m nervous for the Wings and just waiting for their demise. This year, I can watch care-free and enjoy as other fanbases melt under the anxiety that is their team’s elimination game. I am going to pick a team from the East and a team from the West to cheer for – probably the Flames (they’re underdogs and I love watching Matthew Tkachuk play) and the Capitals (it’s time for Ovi to win his Cup), but I won’t really be upset if they lose. I’m just most looking forward to truly getting to enjoy the playoffs this year disappointment-free.
The other thing to look forward to is the Grand Rapids Griffins playoff bid. The team has clinched their playoff spot and they are en route to clinching the AHL’s Central Division. With Evgeny Svechnikov back and Axel Holmstrom called over from Sweden, the team just won an OT thriller in Winnipeg against the Manitoba Moose, snapping a four game losing streak. Once the Wings season ends, the Griffins get back Robbie Russo, Tomas Nosek, Ben Street, and Matt Lorito. They could make some noise this year and that will be fun to see for the future Red Wings.