Reasons for Bruins Fans to Support Remaining Teams in the West

The Eastern Conference Final has been set with the Florida Panthers to face off against the Carolina Hurricanes for a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Final. However, there is still one game left to be played in the second round of the playoffs in the Western Conference. The Seattle Kraken managed a resounding 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars to force a Game 7 on Saturday night. The series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers wrapped up last night with a 5-2 victory by Vegas. 

Related: Boston Bruins 2022-23 Season Report Card

Similar to my last article, I’ll be giving potential reasons Boston Bruins fans could have to support the remaining teams in the Western Conference for the final few weeks of the playoffs for those who want a team to root for.

Dallas Stars

Since making the Stanley Cup Final in the bubble for the 2019-20 season, the Stars have been pretty quiet. They missed the playoffs in 2020-21 and lost in the first round last season despite having some really fun and exciting young players on the roster, like Jason Robertson and Miro Heiskanen. They also probably have the most players on their roster who feel “due” to win their first Stanley Cup – Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, and Ryan Suter. Pavelski especially feels due as he has 125 playoff points in his career, trailing only Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, and David Krejci, all of whom have a Stanley Cup.

Joe Pavelski Dallas Stars
Joe Pavelski, Dallas Stars (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The current roster also has several connections to Boston. Goaltender Jake Oettinger played for Boston University and earned the MVP trophy after helping the team reach their ninth Hockey East Tournament title. Tyler Seguin, of course, is who the Bruins selected with the second overall pick back in 2010. His time in Boston was certainly interesting, but he did help the team win their last Stanley Cup in 2011. Defenseman Colin Miller is also a former Bruin who was acquired as part of the Milan Lucic trade and was then selected by the Golden Knights during the 2017 Expansion Draft.

Seattle Kraken

After a disappointing first season, the NHL’s newest team truly turned it around in the 2022-23 season. With a new mascot and face of the franchise in 20-year-old Matty Beniers, who was recently announced as a Calder Trophy finalist, they finished fourth in the Pacific Division with a 46 – 28 – 8 record and 100 points. As a Wild Card team, they managed to defeat defending champions, the Colorado Avalanche, in the first round. If you like an underdog story, this is certainly a team to consider support on the road to the Stanley Cup.

Latest News & Highlights

The Kraken has two Boston connections as well. Beniers, who registered 57 points in 80 games during the regular season and currently sits at seven points in 13 postseason games, is from Hingham, Massachusetts. Ryan Donato, another Boston native and former Bruin, as well, is currently on the roster after putting together a solid regular season for the team.

Vegas Golden Knights

There is one big reason Bruins fans will either want to cheer for or root against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final and beyond, and that is head coach, Bruce Cassidy. As many fans know, Cassidy became the head coach after the firing of Claude Julien in 2017 and held the position until he was let go after a disappointing 2021-22 season. It was a move that left many baffled, at the time, but he clearly landed on his feet and has put together a terrific run this season in Vegas. 

Bruce Cassidy Vegas Golden Knights
Bruce Cassidy, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Outside of the obvious Cassidy connection to Boston, the roster also includes Jack Eichel, who was born and raised outside of Boston and played for a season at BU. The former second-overall pick is playing in his first postseason after starting his career with the Buffalo Sabres before being traded to the Golden Knights last year. Reilly Smith, one of the original leaders of the team from the inaugural season, spent two years playing for the Bruins back in 2013-14 and 2014-15. 

For any Bruins fans who harbor no bad feelings towards Cassidy and want to see a former Bruin and Boston product get their name on the Stanley Cup, then this may be the team for you.

Gearing Up for Conference Final Matchups

With the final matchup of the second round set to take place tonight between the Kraken and Stars, any way you look at it, this postseason has been an absolute win for teams in nontraditional markets. With Florida set to match up against Carolina in the East and Vegas making it to the Western Conference Final once again, there is a great chance to continue to expand the sport into smaller markets and draw in potential new watchers for the final two rounds. 

Related: Bruins’ Zacha & Coyle Likely to Assume Bigger Roles Next Season

With two of the biggest stars in the league, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, out of the postseason thanks to second-round losses, the NHL and the remaining teams will have an opportunity to promote and push other players into the spotlight. The approaching conference finals will provide plenty of chances for players to take advantage of the national audience and get their names out there. With some great young players on several of these teams, the NHL would be remiss not to put in the effort to promote them and push the game forward.

Sign up for our regular 'Bruins Newsletter' for all the latest.