The playoffs are here! Well, just about. For the teams that are in, it’s a time of hope and anticipation. Maybe even the urge to vomit. For the teams that are out, it’s a time to be thankful that you won’t have to watch your sad sack squad battle through another losing streak.
This is a playlist for the start of the post-season. You will find 16 songs, each one chosen to represent my feelings on a particular team. But fear not, lottery friends, there will be fire tracks for your squads in another post closer to the lottery extravaganza. You will find a playlist link directly below that will work in Spotify. You will also find Youtube links for each jam by clicking on the artist/song title. Official Youtubes used whenever possible.
Washington Capitals (Kanye West ft. T-Pain – The Good Life)
What’s not to feel good about? The Capitals just wrapped arguably the best season in franchise history, winning their second President’s Trophy. Even Ovechkin scored 50 in the most Ovechkin way possible (hatty). I’m sure it’s tough for Caps fans to feel confident given their uh… mixed history in the postseason, but it’s okay to feel good about the fact that your team put up 120 points and is a Stanley Cup favourite. I promise.
Florida Panthers (Paramore – Looking Up)
Who knew? Certainly not me. The Panthers mostly made headlines in recent seasons due to small crowds coming to watch a mixed bag of hockey. Now they’re a 103-point club that looks like a threat to make the Conference Finals, at least. Is this the work of Hockey Vampire Jaromir Jagr? Perhaps, but this is suddenly a roster deep with talented players of all ages. They just notched the first 100-point season in franchise history and they’re not going away anytime soon.
Pittsburgh Penguins (Run River North – Run Or Hide)
The Penguins spent the first six weeks of the season playing mostly bland and often timid hockey. They seemed reluctant to press the attack in any circumstance, hence a 15-10-3 start. They finished 33-16-5 and lost only two games in the last month of the season. Pretty much every metric will tell you exactly what your eyes tell you about this version of the Pens. They’re fast, they’re fun and they’re not afraid to take chances. Now they get to prove they’re a better team by facing of course, the Rangers.
Tampa Bay Lightning (The Roots ft. John Legend – The Fire)
Poor Tampa. They seemed poised for a spirited defense of their Eastern Conference title from a year ago. Disastrous long-term injuries to Stralman and Stamkos in recent weeks means it is going to be a fight just to get out of the first round. They’re going to be leaning hard on Ben Bishop, to say the least. This would be a fine time for newly-returned Jonathan Drouin to showcase some of that formidable offensive talent.
New York Rangers (Death Cab For Cutie – Good Help Is So Hard To Find)
This is definitely not last year’s Rangers team. They dropped to a middle of the pack team in goals against which is amazing considering their goalie is Lundqvist. It’s tough to rule out a playoff run because Henrik can always get hot but the Rangers spent most of this season playing without the puck and that’ll be tough to rectify when facing consistently strong playoff opposition. They did add an extra Staal but I’m not convinced that’s enough to get the job done.
Detroit Red Wings (Five For Fighting – 100 Years)
I swear I remember the Red Wings missing the playoffs. Sure I might have been in elementary school at the time, but it happened! They were bad once! People used to call Steve Yzerman a loser! That was a thing that happened! Simply the gold standard for NHL success. Sure they’re not an elite team right now, but pretty much any fanbase in the league will take 25 playoff trips, 6 finals appearances and 4 Stanley Cups.
New York Islanders (The Go! Team – Keys To The City)
They don’t have to listen to any more “Where will they go?” talk as they’re planted firmly in Brooklyn. They’re coming off their second straight 100-point season, the first time they’ve done that since the dynasty days. They’re never going to be bigger in New York than the Rangers, but there’s no reason they can’t regain the mantle of most successful New York franchise.
Philadelphia Flyers (Eliot Sumner – Halfway To Hell)
Good news: Giroux, Voracek, Ghost Bear, Simmonds, Mason, etc. Talented players! Bad news: They’re not really ready for prime time yet. They struggle to score and any series they’re involved in is going to be an ugly one. A match-up with the high-flying Capitals does not seem to be what the doctor ordered. They slogged through tough match-ups down the stretch for this?
Dallas Stars (Big Data ft. Joywave – Dangerous)
They’re the league’s highest scoring team and it’s not all that close. Lindy Ruff coaching a high flying offensive team is just… strange. Also strange to think this is just their second playoff appearance since 2008. They’ve got the star power. Can they get the goaltending? It’ll be interesting to see how they deploy their netminders as both Lehtonen and Niemi have played a lot this season.
Anahiem Ducks (Castlecomer – Fire Alarm)
Nobody allowed fewer goals than the Ducks this year. They’ve got the top power play AND penalty kill units in the league. This team appears better than a year ago when the Ducks went all the way to the Conference Finals. While I would stop short of calling them the favorite, they’re definitely on the short list of teams most likely to make a deep run towards June.
St. Louis Blues (Coldplay – The Hardest Part)
I could be referring to the Blues struggles in the playoffs, or I could be referring to my struggle to take them seriously as a contender. This is a good team. This is a talented team. The fact that they have been disappointing for most of the last two decades come playoff time should not matter to me. It has no direct bearing on what happens this year. But it has a lot of impact on my perception, despite any efforts to the contrary. Prove me wrong, Blues.
Los Angeles Kings (Dilated Peoples – Back Again)
I personally preferred the Kings out of the playoffs as they were last season. Any time they’re in they’re a threat to win the whole thing. They control the puck and they don’t give up many goals. Can they score enough against the top teams? Probably? Maybe? Possibly? They’ve got the resume and they’ve got a system that has been proven to work in the spring. They also have Anze Freakin’ Kopitar who is very good at the thing with the puck.
Chicago Black Hawks (Fall Out Boy – This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race)
Few teams have excelled on the personnel side like the Hawks in recent memory. They have remained an elite NHL team over the last eight seasons despite almost constant attrition due to the salary cap. Lose a good young player (Saad) to an offer sheet? No problem. They roll out Panarin who promptly piles up 77 points as a rookie. Corey Crawford was superb and helped them push through a mid-season swoon. Can someone derail their repeat bid? (Full disclosure: I sure hope so.)
San Jose Sharks (The Muscadettes – West Coast Daze)
I certainly misread the Sharks after last season. It seemed like they were heading towards a strange player-management feud apex and that they’d be in a death spiral this year. Instead they came back as a high scoring team with a lethal powerplay who could actually also prevent goals? Jumbo Joe has been great (he always is, IMO) and they have Paul Martin now. Who picks against Paul Martin? Satan?
Minnesota Wild (Kendrick Lamar ft. Mary J Blige – Now Or Never)
Good news: In the playoffs for the fourth straight season and they finally get to face off with the Stars, who hightailed it out of Minnesota about a billion years ago at this point. Bad news: They’re not quite as good as they were last year, Dallas is really good and the coaching change didn’t vault the Wild into the stratosphere. Not that people expected it to. But hey they’ve got Devan Dubnyk and whatever magic pixie dust they sprinkled on him after they got him from Edmonton, and once you get in the dance who knows what can happen?
Nashville Predators (Kings of Leon – Coming Back Again)
The Predators are giving off the vibe of “solid above average team”, which makes me think they are not a big threat to the top contenders. Especially when I look at Pekka Rinne’s numbers and think “Is he hurt? What the heck?” I’m not nearly smart enough to figure out what the story is with him (go read this ingoalmag piece if you want actual nuanced analysis). I just don’t see how Nashville gets anywhere in the postseason without some prime Rinne.
My total hoser fan picks in the first round
Capitals, Penguins, Panthers, Red Wings.
Stars, Blackhawks, Ducks, Sharks.