With the Boston Bruins out of the playoffs, I’ve had several conversations with people about who they are going to support for the rest of the postseason. There are reasons to support each of the teams remaining in the Eastern conference playoffs as they continue their pursuit for the Stanley Cup.
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If you’re like me and enjoy having a team to support (at least temporarily), then this is the guide for you. With plenty of hockey left to watch as the playoffs continue through the next several weeks, here are some reasons for fans to tune into those games.
The Carolina Hurricanes have begun a mini rivalry with the Bruins in recent seasons going back to the 2019 sweep in the Eastern Conference Final. The matchups between the two teams have created some of the most fun hockey games to watch in recent years. Former Bruin Ondrej Kase is currently on the team, though he is on long-term injured reserve (LTIR). Max Pacioretty, also on LTIR, is a New England native born in New Canaan, CT.
So, why root for them? Well, you can’t deny that Sebastian Aho isn’t a fun player to watch. Jaccob Slavin is an underrated defenseman in the NHL and deserves a chance to shine on the national stage. As someone who lived in North Carolina for a few years and went to many of their games, I can confirm its a fun fan base. Also, who can forget the iconic offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi of the Montreal Canadiens after they previously offer sheeted Aho? The team has certainly made for some fun headlines in recent years.
New Jersey Devils
One reason to support the New Jersey Devils for the next few weeks is that they probably hate the New York teams just as much if not more than Boston fans. As the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The roster also has multiple connections to Boston. This includes John Marino, a defenseman from Massachusetts, and who doesn’t like seeing local talent do well? Erik Haula, Curtis Lazar, and Dougie Hamilton are all former Bruins (I know not all of them left on great terms, but still). Miles Wood, while a nuisance every time the team faces Boston, is a product of Boston College and Noble and Greenough High School.
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Beyond the connections the roster has to Boston, similar to the Hurricanes, the team has fun, exciting young players to watch. One of those players, Jack Hughes, the former first-overall pick, is having a great first postseason experience with 10 points in 11 games. Out of the teams remaining in the East, the Bruins also probably have the least bad blood with the Devils at the moment. They also provided a really great matchup during the regular season with fun games to watch.
Toronto Maple Leafs
(Rivalry aside, Auston Matthew and Mitch Marner are super fun players to watch, even though they aren’t having a great series. They also currently have Noel Acciari on the roster, a New England product as well as a former Boston Bruin.)
If you’re going to lose in the first round of the playoffs, does it ease the sting at least a little bit to have the loss be to the potential champions? At the end of the day, they proved fair and square to be the better team and deserved to win that final Game 7. While Colin White and Casey Fitzgerald don’t see a ton of playing time, they are both from the Boston area, giving the team local talent to support.
In addition, they are playing like a championship team now, so it’s not very hard to root for them. Matthew Tkachuk is a disciple of the Brad Marchand school for pests, and let’s be honest, most people can’t help but be entertained while watching a player like that, particularly when they have the skills to back it up. He may not be having the best series, but still a fascinating player to watch and one of the best American players currently in the league. Also, they’re facing the Maple Leafs, so automatically many Boston fans are going to want to see them come out of this round on top.
East Continues to Provide Entertaining Games
If you haven’t tuned into any games since the Bruins exit, I highly recommend checking out some of the battles still going on in the East. The games have been entertaining and some really great hockey talent has been on display.
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In an ideal world of course, the Bruins would still be in the mix. But unfortunately, they are not, and hockey rolls on. With the level of talent that remains in the Eastern Conference postseason teams, there is sure to be plenty of great battles ahead in the Conference and Stanley Cup Final.