Like Pavel Datsyuk, I decided to swoop in, unnoticed, undetected, and make a steal. Frank, from the Rat Trick, wrote a post about the 5 Teams He Has to See Every Year. I’m doing the exact same thing, and I’m damn proud of it.
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I’m very, very into the division rivalries with the Rangers, Devils, and Penguins, so to keep this a bit more interesting, I’m going to exclude all division teams from this.
Chicago Blackhawks:I think these guys might be one everyone’s Must See list after winning the Cup. But even before that hellish overtime goal, this was one of the better teams to watch. They have good team speed, score a lot of goals, and force teams to play their style of game. That just makes for one hell of an entertaining contest. Although, they have lost a few role players, so we’ll see how much the team dynamic has changed.
San Jose Sharks:Despite their perennial choke-jobs in the playoffs, this is another team that’s fun as hell to watch. It was pretty painful seeing them demolish the Flyers in a regular season matchup last November, but just from a hockey fans perspective it was also good to watch. Crisp passing, tons of pressure, make this for a fast paced match-up. They too, like Chicago, force their opponents to play their game.
Buffalo Sabres: I’d go see them just to watch Ryan Miller. He’s the best goalie in the game, and one of few that you can count on to put on a clinic almost every time he’s on the ice. Because of his freakish abilities to stop almost everything, the rest of the cast has the confidence to pinch forward. They aren’t the most talented group of guys, but they skate fast and hard, are well-coached, and win games through solid work ethic and team play. This system brought them a surprise division title last season, and with Miller continuing to put on a gem of a performance each time, along with the emergence of Tyler Myers along the blue line, this team can stay on this list for a few years.
Washington Capitals: Although Ovechkin is a big part of it, it’s not just about him. The Flyers and Caps flat out HATE each other, and it shows every time they play. Every game turns into a playoff atmosphere, with the crowd getting into it, and the players feeding off of it. Let’s not forget Mike Green, Alex Semin, Nicky Backstrom, and the rest of the Caps crew. They’re mostly pretty young, fast, and hungry. And they have to be super motivated after three straight years of crushing playoff defeats (including against the Flyers in 7 games, on Lupul’s OT winner).
Northwest Division (Except Minnesota): Sorry, I had trouble narrowing it down. Whatever, it’s my blog, screw you. (Wait, come back. Follow me. Read me. Pleeeassse!!!) Anyway, there’s something appealing about all of those teams. You’ve got the physical play and high scoring in Vancouver, including reigning MVP Henrik Sedin, and that guy Daniel Sedin that looks just like him. Then there are the resurgent Avalanche, who came out dead last in the league to clinch a playoff spot. They’re also young, and on the upswing. I like watching Paul Stastny, too bad I’m too young to have seen his pops play. Calgary has Iginla, who is my favorite player in the league. He does it all, and no matter how good or bad the Flames are, he’s worth the price of admission. The Oilers are pretty much small market losers, but I still have some love for them. Every few seasons they have a nice crop of youth , and they make a surprising playoff run. We never hear about them, but this season, they took Taylor Hall 1st overall in the draft, and I’d like to see him play.
I’d love to watch a game in Minnesotabecause they have a good hockey crowd. But seeing them when they come to town, not so much. Jacques Lemaire made them boring with his bullshit trap defense, and they haven’t recovered yet. Once they do, I’ll add them to the list. But I’m glad the Flyers retired his ass after his return to Jersey.
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