The playoffs start on Wednesday in the NHL. The journey begins for the best 16 teams that fleeced at least 2 points from the corpse of our poor Buffalo Sabres. Now that the suffering is over for a while, Sabres fans can turn to the greatest day of the year.
The Draft Lottery! The start of the NHL playoffs! Given the traditional TV ratings, you know that the Sabres being out of the playoffs since basically October has never stopped Buffalo from watching them some hockey. Even if you’re not a Sabres fan though, come on in and check out our fan’s guide to the playoff teams and why you should or shouldn’t root for each of them.
We’ll give each team a series of grades without a true rank so that you can see what you like about each team. We’ll grade teams in four areas that often dictate who we root for when our own squad is off the table.
1) Team Likeability – An obvious start. If you’re a hockey fan, there are at least a few teams you can never root for, and some you’ve always rooted for when they don’t collide with your own team. I will largely be representing Sabres fans with this category since, ya know, Sabre Noise is the name of this website, but you’re free to give your own grade to each team and keep the other grades for your own determination. And if you’re not a fan, that’s cool, too! Just ignore this one and embrace everyone equally.
2) Win Starvation – Again, as a Sabres site, we firmly empathize with any fan base desperate for ultimate hockey glory. We understand what it’s like to pull at your hair and silently (or not so silently) wish that once, just once in your life, you could see your team’s captain hoist the Cup. That counts big time from where we’re sitting. The longer a team’s fans have had to wait for a Cup, the higher this number goes.
3) Fan Rating – My main source here is a jumble of preseason expectations combined with average attendance this season. I typically pull more for teams with a loyal following year in and year out, because I feel that those fans deserve it more than the ones who show up around the finish line.
4) Cup Contender Chances – It’s not that we can’t root for the intrepid wild card teams in either conference; it’s that hopping on their cart for one round, only to hop on another in the second is something that might be less fun than picking one team with a nice first round matchup that can slip through and maybe do some damage.
All scores are on a scale of 1-10, and let’s not get too fixated on them. We’ll start at the team we’d least root for to win the Cup and work our way up to numero uno. As is always the case with these things, they are merely guidelines for where we stand in Buffalo through my own personal, not necessarily correct, lens. Apply your own criteria as you see fit. Now, let’s start things off with a familiar foe to Sabres fans.