We totally understand if you’re the type who packs up and stops watching hockey once the Bruins are eliminated. Especially this year.
A first-round exit leaves a bitter taste, but for most of the second half of the season, the Bruins had the flavor of a Stanley Cup contender. Then there’s the whole Patrice Bergeron thing. If you just want to disappear for a while, we get it.
Plus, you have other options. The Celtics are still alive, and if you’re the self-loathing type, you could watch the Red Sox.
There are a few reasons for Boston hockey fans to tune into the rest of the playoffs. Some are a stretch, but some are legitimate. Let’s go series by series:
▪ New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
The case for the Rangers: Some really fun players — Artemi Panarin, former Harvard star Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad, and Boxford’s Chris Kreider, who played at Boston College — and they’re facing the team that just beat the Bruins. Plus, the Rangers kicked Tony DeAngelo out of Manhattan 15 months ago, after off-ice trouble, including a spat with a teammate. You think TD Garden was hard on DeAngelo last round? Rangers fans still chant the name of a defenseman (Denis Potvin) who wronged them 43 years ago. I’m half-expecting Panarin to throw his glove at DeAngelo on Alexandar Georgiev’s behalf.
The case for the Hurricanes: If the team that beats you in a playoff series later wins the Stanley Cup, you can tell yourself that, actually, you were the second-best team.
The verdict: Rangers, all day.
▪ Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers
The case for the Lightning: Three-peats are exceedingly rare in sports, not just in hockey.
The case for the Panthers: Long-suffering fans, whose team just won a playoff round for the first time since 1996. Long-suffering players Joe Thornton and Claude Giroux, looking for their first Cups after years of close calls. Aleksander Barkov is a fantastic player. The Cats love to push the offensive pace and make high-skill plays.
The verdict: If you’re jumping on anyone’s bandwagon, the Panthers are an easy call.
▪ St. Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche
The case for the Blues: You want good things for Torey Krug.
The case for the Avalanche: Cale Makar (UMass) is entering the Best Player in the World conversation. If the Avalanche advance, that’s four more games to watch him. Everyone wins. Josh Manson (Northeastern) scored the overtime winner in Game 1.
The verdict: If you have the stomach to cheer for the team that (redacted) in 2019, you’re different from most Bruins fans. Avalanche in a … landslide.
▪ Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames
The case for the Oilers: Connor McDavid, who went nuclear on the Kings in the first round, is in the second round for the second time in his seven-year career. The Battle of Alberta.
The case for the Flames: Hearing Calgary fans holler “Loooooch” when Milan Lucic touches the puck brings back warm memories. Ex-Bruin Dan Vladar plays the “affable, goofy backup goalie” role better than most. The Flames are led by Boston College product Johnny Gaudreau and linemate Matthew Tkachuk, who has roots in Melrose, and defenseman Noah Hanifin (Norwood) is having a great year. Above all, if you’re not into the idea of Calgary assistant general manager Chris Snow celebrating a day with the Cup, please reassess your priorities.
The verdict: Go Flames.