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A Kings’ fan’s guide to the playoffs: Western Conference edition

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Choosing a Western Conference team to root for in the playoffs feels blasphemous, but we’re going to help you pick one anyway.

San Jose Sharks v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Yesterday, we presented our quick and easy guide to selecting an Eastern Conference team to temporarily cheer for in the playoffs.

Today, our job gets a little bit harder.

Picking a Western Conference team feels a little wrong. Even though the Kings didn’t even sniff a playoff spot at all during the season, it still feels sort of dirty to allow yourself to feel positive thoughts for another team in our own Conference.

If you’re daring enough, though, there are some intriguing options, and some familiar faces among the ranks. Onwards!

Nashville Predators

In favor: SOUTHERN HOCKEY. Always root for southern hockey and purists to lose their minds because a southern hockey market is successful. Anyway. The back-to-back Central Division Champions are always fun to watch and they play high octane hockey. You never know what you’re going to get. Are they going to be good? Is Pekka Rinne going to bail them or will he be questionable? What is defense? Fully capable of scoring six goals, they’re equally capable of giving up seven. It’s fun and slightly stressful. And since you don’t have to answer these questions about the Kings, go be stressed out about Music City.

Also, they have PK Subban, and a happy PK Subban is good for the soul.

Against: They employ Zac Rinaldo, Cody McLeod, and Austin Watson. Plus, it’s not like their team management has shown any propensity for taking steps at reducing violence towards women. —Robyn

Dallas Stars

In favor: SOUTHERN HOCKEY, Y’ALL. That’s why you should root for Dallas. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Former-King-For-a-Hot-Minute Ben Bishop, plus Radek Faksa is damn fun to watch. And who wouldn’t want to see Dallas be successful since Mike Modano lifted the Cup after the super controversial foot-in-the-crease that won it all? Plus, obviously, the Cup should come back to the Western Conference.

Against: It’s honestly time to see Jamie Benn go down. No, that joke will never not be funny. —Robyn

Winnipeg Jets

In favor: The Jets are a common bandwagon choice, which makes sense: they’re unpredictable, they’ve got no annoying history of winning, they are full of talented young offensive players, and they’ve had a rough enough season that they aren’t a favorite. They take on the St. Louis Blues in the first round, if you like an NHL team, the odds are that you don’t really like the St. Louis Blues. You’ll enjoy rooting for them! Probably!

Against: There’s nothing particularly Kings-fan-appealing about the Jets. No former Kings, Tyler Myers instead of Colten Teubert, whiteouts instead of blackouts, and a city that is basically the opposite of Los Angeles. I can’t come up with a particularly compelling reason to root against them, but that kind of makes rooting for them less fun, doesn’t it? So feel free to just hate them, I suppose. —Eric

St. Louis Blues

In favor: Jordan Binnington . Watch his 24-5-1 record, 1.89 goals against average and .927 save percentage dominate in the playoffs. Remember when the Blues were in last place and fired their coach and wound up being a win away from first place? The Blues are the Cinderella story.

Against: Last of the original expansion teams not to win a Stanley Cup. Not everyone needs to win it. Really though, no other team deserves to win. —Michael

Calgary Flames

In favor: It’s been four whole years since a very fortunate Flames team knocked a vastly superior Kings team out of playoff contention thanks to, I assume, seven rabbits’ feet and a deal with Satan. (Satan, Flames, that seems reasonable.) This team is different, though; they are a legitimately dangerous squad who managed to fend off the Sharks and Golden Knights for the Pacific crown, and honestly, guaranteeing one of them loses immediately that is a gift for all of us. Calgary’s got a very reasonable path to the Stanley Cup Final, so picking the Flames is a good way to avoid heartbreak. At least for a while.

Against: If you are willingly going to pick a team with Matthew Tkachuk and Mike Smith to win a Stanley Cup, there’s nothing else I can say to you that will convince you to root against the Flames. —Eric

Colorado Avalanche

In favor: For part of the season, they had one of the best lines in hockey with Gabe Landeskog, Nate MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen. Rantanen has been out with an injury but is poised to return for the playoffs. That dynamic line was fun to watch when they were at their best, and seeing them go up against the Flames could be an adventure in some very high-scoring games.

Oh yeah, they’re playing the Flames. That alone is enough reason to root for them, at least through the first round.

Against: There’s some playoff rivalry history between these teams, but it feels, well, dated. Not recent enough to want them to fail just based off of past history with the Kings alone, at least. So the obvious no here is not wanting to see Semyon Varlamov lift the Stanley Cup, which is enough for me. —Sarah

San Jose Sharks

In favor: Look. I know. You don’t want the Sharks to win a Cup. But, consider: several of the most hateable Sharks from past seasons have departed. They’re really fun to watch as a neutral party, bringing a high-octane offense and a largely irresponsible defense to the table. Martin Jones is their starting goaltender, and he’s been really bad this season, but Jones is one guy we’d all love to see rebound. Joe Pavelski would be the first guy to raise the Cup, and he seems nice. —Eric

Against: As a Kings fan, you fall into one of two camps:

  • Loved seeing Ron Burgundy taunt the Sharks for their lack of cups from the Kings broadcast booth
  • Preferred the humor of Ron Burgundy being intimate with a bean burrito in the Kings broadcast booth

If you’re in camp #1, feel free to ride this train. If you’re in camp #2, I can’t blame you, that was a good bit. —Eric

Vegas Golden Knights

In favor: No.

Against: Literally every single reason. Do not root for them. Don’t do it. I’ll know it, if you do. —Sarah