Who Every Fanbase is Rooting For in the Stanley Cup Semifinals

Stanley Cup Semifinals

The hockey season is almost over, with the Stanley Cup semifinals kicking off. Just four teams remain: The Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vegas Golden Knights. That leaves 28 fanbases to just sit back and watch. This can be a difficult process for many fans who want to have some sort of a rooting interest, and a good amount of teams aren’t necessarily swayed by one specific survivor.

Usually, the result in this scenario is to root for an underdog, which would be the Canadiens or the Islanders. The Golden Knights winning just a few years into their history, and the Lightning going back-to-back while being excessively over the salary cap also puts a bad taste in people’s mouths. Let’s look at the best option to root for depending on which team you follow. It is perfectly fine to root for a different team than the one suggested here, of course.

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Related: Canadiens/Knights Playoff Preview, Islanders/Lightning Playoff Preview

Anaheim Ducks: Montreal Canadiens

The choice for Montreal here is thanks to Corey Perry, the Ducks legend currently playing fourth-line minutes for the Habs. He won with Anaheim in 2007 and was on the Stars team that lost in the Finals last year, but Ducks fans should still root for Perry.

Arizona Coyotes: New York Islanders

Same underdog scenario that will be touched upon several times. Coyotes fans should move over to the Islanders side given both teams’ history of being made fun of thanks to attendance. Granted, the Coyotes and Isles have different attendance issues, but there’s not much else here.

Boston Bruins: Vegas Golden Knights

The Canadiens and Lightning are major rivals to the Bruins, and the Islanders just knocked them out, with fans clowning Boston coach Bruce Cassidy in the process. The process of elimination leaves Bostonians with Vegas.

Buffalo Sabres: Vegas Golden Knights

The Sabres have some former Knights in Colin Miller and Cody Eakin, but that isn’t enough for a decision. What takes the cake is that if Vegas falls just short again, they may get aggressive. That could mean a choice to go all-in for Jack Eichel as they did for Alex Pietrangelo less than a year ago. A Cup win prevents that possibility.

Calgary Flames: Montreal Canadiens

Losing to Tampa Bay in 2004 is really the only bias to be found here. Go Canada? That’s not really for the hardcore fans but could sway casuals.

Carolina Hurricanes: Montreal Canadiens

Losing to the Lightning this year probably put a sour taste in the mouths of Canes fans. Just like Anaheim, this Montreal decision is because of a former icon on the fourth line. This time it’s Eric Staal, a Hurricanes legend gunning for his second Stanley Cup.

Chicago Blackhawks: Tampa Bay Lightning

Montreal does have some former Blackhawks like Michael Frolik, Erik Gustafsson, and Phillip Danault, but none were big in Chicago. Vegas has Robin Lehner and New York has Nick Leddy. Tampa Bay was formerly the home of Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito, who along with his brother Phil, helped found the team. Condolences for 2015 are also an option. Grasping at straws here, so this is more of a wild card.

Colorado Avalanche: New York Islanders

Avalanche fans definitely do not want Vegas to win, so that eliminates one. Any fans that carried over from the Nordiques (if that exists) would not want Montreal to win. Rooting for an Islanders Stanley Cup would be a good apology for the Devon Toews trade.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Tampa Bay Lightning

The Blue Jackets have had a recent playoff rivalry with Tampa Bay, shocking them two years ago before falling in the bubble. The deciding factor here is David Savard. Traded at the deadline, Savard is fourth all-time in games as a Blue Jacket.

Dallas Stars: Vegas Golden Knights

Unless Perry made a big impact on you in his year in Dallas, or you like to root for Texas natives like Blake Coleman, Vegas is the play for Stars fans. Go hockey in warm climates?

Edmonton Oilers: New York Islanders

Vegas and Montreal are not the play here thanks to past and present division rivalries. The Islanders also have the blue and orange, plus former Oiler Jordan Eberle. Although watching Eberle win a Cup with Mat Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier could be painful for the many who despised Peter Chiarelli’s tenure.

Florida Panthers: Montreal Canadiens

The Lightning and Panthers are rivals, so an obvious “no” there. The Islanders eliminated the Panthers in 2016 and 2020, and the Golden Knights robbed them in the expansion draft, stealing Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault. That could be a reason to root for Vegas, but they also would have won more Cups in four seasons than the Panthers have in over twenty. Process of elimination chooses Montreal.

Los Angeles Kings: New York Islanders

The three California teams are pretty bad, so their rooting interest is mainly anyone but Vegas. Maybe fans are still salty about their 1993 loss to Montreal. That leaves Tampa Bay and New York. The tie goes to the underdog.

Minnesota Wild: New York Islanders

Another win for simply being an underdog. The Wild would only have beef with Vegas, who knocked them out in the first round this year. The Islanders have a ton of Minnesota natives in Nick Leddy, Brock Nelson, and injured captain Anders Lee. That could be enough to make a difference. So could former Wild Cal Clutterbuck.

Nashville Predators: Montreal Canadiens

The Preds have little to no stake in this group. The Islanders could be an interesting choice, given both have smaller markets but an incredibly loud arena. However, you have to root for former Nashville captain and current Montreal captain Shea Weber.

New Jersey Devils: New York Islanders

Rooting for a division rival would be an odd choice, but former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has made quite the team of ex-Devils. Longtime players Andy Greene and Travis Zajac deserve a Cup and sniper Kyle Palmieri was a Devil earlier this year as well. Don’t forget that former Devil Cory Schneider is the third goaltender on the Isles. Not convinced? Ask Devils GM and former Islander Tom Fitzgerald.

New York Rangers: Tampa Bay Lightning

Under any circumstance, not the Islanders. 2014 created a bit of a rivalry between the Habs and Rangers, and former Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh is a member of the Lightning. He won last year, but Rangers fans may not mind watching him hoist the Cup again.

Ottawa Senators: New York Islanders

Both the Islanders and the Golden Knights have a former lovable Sen, with Jean-Gabriel Pageau centering New York’s third line, while Mark Stone is starring for Vegas. Once again, the tie goes to the underdog.

Philadelphia Flyers: Vegas Golden Knights

Not too much of an interest for the Flyers fans here. The Islanders are rivals, and Tampa Bay and Montreal are in their Conference in normal years. Vegas gets a slight advantage, although this is another “personal preference” situation.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Vegas Golden Knights

Given how the Penguins went out thanks to a collapse by Tristan Jarry, watching Marc-Andre Fleury win a Cup then maybe a Vezina would be painful. That said, Fleury is a Pittsburgh legend, and Pens fans should root for him to win his fourth championship.

San Jose Sharks: New York Islanders

The Sharks really have nothing to base a decision on. They have just one former player left in the running (Barclay Goodrow), but he won last year with the Lightning. This leaves us to the two underdogs. The Isles haven’t won since the 80s, so they get the nod.

Seattle Kraken: Vegas Golden Knights

There’s not much of a fanbase yet, but seeing an expansion team take just four years to win would be encouraging.

St. Louis Blues: Tampa Bay Lightning

Three-time in a row Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon, anyone?

Toronto Maple Leafs: Vegas Golden Knights

The Leafs and Canadiens are rivals, and they also aren’t too fond of the Lightning. The John Tavares crowd and the thought of Lou Lamoriello leaving the Leafs then building a contender outweigh the hopes of Matt Martin or Leo Komarov winning. So, Vegas wins.

Vancouver Canucks: Montreal Canadiens

Casual fans will gravitate to the Canadian team remaining. Another reason is that the Habs are led by two old British Columbians without a Cup in Shea Weber and Carey Price. Former Canuck Tyler Toffoli is there, too.

Washington Capitals: Vegas Golden Knights

Rooting for the Eastern Conference teams, especially the Islanders, won’t be common among Caps fans. Chandler Stephenson was not exactly a fan favorite in Washington, but he centers Vegas’ top line.

Winnipeg Jets: Vegas Golden Knights

This is the last team on the list, and they have no obvious bias. So, we have to go to the judges, and they say a Manitoba-off! It’s simple: the team with the most Manitobans wins. This wasn’t even close. Vegas has five on their roster in Stone, Ryan Reaves, Zach Whitecloud, Keegan Kolesar, and Cody Glass.

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