My critics have often called me out as being someone that "rides a team." Well, duh I'm a hockey fan, I'm obviously going to have teams I like, and teams I don't like. That said, every single team I was pulling for in the previous round lost. A big oh for four. That said, I have to figure out who I am rooting for in the last two rounds. I can't sit back and just watch the games, I have to pick a team I want to win, and cheer for them.
I personally don't like either team in the West at all. I think Anaheim has used a bunch of cheap tactics to get here (I'm still irked over the wimpy suspension in the Kim Johnson incident), and I think Detroit has some of the biggest fairweather fans in the league. What does that say about the sport when "Hockeytown" can't sell out any playoff hockey games?
In the East, there's two teams I respect. Unfortunately, Buffalo has the worst fans in all of hockey, in terms of being rude, obnoxious stains on humanity, and both being fairweather fans. Ottawa, I nothing. They are kind of like the DC of Canada, in that they aren't as big as some cities, but they are the nation's capital, and that all the other "Big Cities" (Montreal and Toronto in this instance), tend to overlook them and look down their nose at them. I bet Ottawa is an awesome party city too. Unfortunately, there aren't really any players on Ottawa I like. Again, lots of guys I respect, but no one I particularly love. I shall definitely be pulling for them to win, but I'm going to have a hard time making myself get excited about them.
So what do I do? A simply solution. I'm pulling for the refs. There are certainly refs I like, and while I haven't seen a list of which officials are going to be on the ice for this round, I hope they do a great job, like some of them actually ARE capable of doing. I hope the NHL was smart enough to put Bill McCreary in the next round, as he is the most consistant official in the league. I want a situation where the losing team can sit back and say "we lost because we didn't play hockey as well as the other team," not another situation where fans are whining about a goal that shouldn't have counted, or a penalty that should have been called (are you listening Dean Morton?). I just want people at the end of the day to go "You know what? That officiating wasn't too horrible," because in the end, that would be a victory for hockey fans.