Often, bandwagon fans like to cheer for the underdog, or a team that’s never won the Cup before.
Then, there are those who hop on a bandwagon that wins.
If you fall into the latter category, chances are you might want to cheer for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in 2009, Sidney Crosby suffered some traumatic head injuries in the early 2010s. At one point, it seemed like his career might be in jeopardy.
Thankfully for Crosby (and the game of hockey) he bounced back, and Pittsburgh became the first back-to-back Stanley Cup champs since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings.
Back in the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season, the Pens are now shooting for their third Cup in four years. Another Cup win this season would cement the Pens status as a dynasty, following in the footsteps of the Chicago Blackhawks.
So, thinking about joining the Pens bandwagon? I’ve recruited Kaitlyn Dividock of Pensburgh to sway you one way or the other.
1. Why should Canucks’ fans root for the Penguins to win the Cup?
Whenever I first read this question, I let out a big laugh. No one outside of the Pittsburgh fanbase ever roots for the Penguins during the playoffs -- at least not anymore in this era. This is how I read it: “Why should long-suffering and frustrated Canucks fans, whose team didn’t make the playoffs again, root for an annual Cup contender to win its fourth championship in three years?” So we don’t have to pretend here. You all likely don’t want them to win, and honestly you probably shouldn’t, and there are zero hard feelings in that. The Penguins also collected a couple of the Canucks’ former players via trades this season, and I’m sure it’s not easy to see Jared McCann, a talented prospect that was seemingly misused, and Erik Gudbranson, a player who was jeered for most of his career in Vancouver, raise the Cup come June. But hey, we’re all for inducting new members to root for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to win as many Cups as possible before they retire. If you don’t want to root for the Penguins franchise itself, maybe it’s easier to root for their individual players instead.
2. What’s the feeling in Pittsburgh in facing a surprising Islanders team in Round 1?
Everyone was writing off NYI in the beginning of the season after the departure of John Tavares. But because the Penguins had the opportunity to face the Isles four times in the regular season thanks to divisional matchups, the surprise sort of subsided the second outing between these two clubs. You could just see the Barry Trotz effect (something the Penguins also dealt with during his tenure vs. another Metro rival, Washington) radiating off these new-look Islanders. Trotz also brought his genius goaltenders coach Piero Greco and transformed the faltering crease into a brick wall, and the Penguins experiences first-hand how good their goalie tandem was. The first two games against the Islanders ended as blowout and shooutout wins for NYI, and Pittsburgh faced a harsh reality of seeing just how far they’d come from last season. To me, the most fun part about this series, however, is the history and bad blood. The Islanders have had their way with the Penguins for a long time in past playoffs, and Pittsburgh is likely keeping that thought as a momentum driver heading into Game 1.
3. What is the impact of Erik Gudbranson, is there any faith he can keep up his strong play in the playoffs?
Gudbranson has been a major surprise, there’s no doubt about it. Tons of reporters and fans, including me, have been eating crow for a couple months now. I think the expectation for him was so low, that the only direction he could go was up, and boy has he. It’s well-known that Mike Sullivan purposely simplified the defense’s game down the final stretch because of the numerous injuries to the Penguins’ blue line, and that seems to have really helped Gudbranson’s transition. He doesn’t have to create, formulate breakouts, or quarterback an offense. His sole job is to force breakups, make smart hits, and keep any nonsense out of Matt Murray’s crease. That’s the expectation, and he’s been stellar in that role. Lately he has been regressing, but the hope is that he’ll stay solid. The Penguins are finally working towards a completely healthy d-corps, so it’ll be interesting how Sullivan manages their usage.
So, did Kaitlyn convince you to cheer for the dreaded tandem of Guddy and McCann? If not, here are some other interviews from our Bandwagon Outreach Program:
For writers on playoff teams that haven’t gotten back to us yet? Just don’t bother cheering for those guys...
Who are you cheering for in this year’s playoffs?
This poll is closed
Pittsburgh (that’s why I clicked, idiot)
Bunch of Jerks (trendy thing to do...)
Winnipeg aka "Canada’s team"
Other (tell us who...SHOW YOURSELF, in the comments)