Happy playoffs everyone! Here are reasons to root for each team. Like every year, these are in the order of each team’s league finish, so please do not yell at me like you do every year about how X or Y team should be higher or lower. You did not read this and will yell at me anyway.
- Washington Capitals: I mean come on. Root for them because you are tired of choking narratives, of overused storylines, of words like ‘enigma,’ ‘leadership,’ and ‘character.’ Root for them because they are fun and adorable and exciting. Root for them because Alexander Ovechkin’s cup celebration would be so gratifying if you are a grown up and not from the state of Pennsylvania.
- Pittsburgh Penguins: Kris Letang is out so is life even worth living oh wait there’s Sidney’s butt.
- Chicago Blackhawks: I mean, they’re always a safe bet, but at this point it seems like “because you are a Blackhawks fan” is the only reason.
- Columbus Blue Jackets: if you’ve been sleeping on this team, listen, there’s this kid called Zach Werenski. He has been amazing. We talk a lot about Torts and how this team is a lot of smoke and mirrors but look past all of that and watch this guy. He is not smoke and mirrors.
- Minnesota Wild: I still can’t think of a single reason to cheer for this team. Maybe next year. (No, not next year, either.)
- Anaheim Ducks: because it would be kind of funny to see a really-only- okay-but-maybe-used-to-be-good team can a great coach, hire a bad coach, and go on to win a cup.
- Montreal Canadiens: because this is the only true choice if you want me to love you. But if you really need another reason why would you need another reason think of how beautiful it would be to watch Literal Best Goaltender In The World Carey Price work absolute magic on the ice and then get rewarded for it instead of being let down by a useless system and mind numbing defensive mistakes. Are you crying? I’m crying.
- Edmonton Oilers: I get it. Their fans are annoying. Their media people are annoying. Their owner is a Grade A Jackwagon. But this team is so damn fun to watch. If you can tune those other things out, you’ll enjoy watching them play.
- New York Rangers: because you are a famous person in New York with nothing better to do that night and the Rangers gave you tickets so they could put you on the Jumbotron.
- St. Louis Blues: I can’t use the David Backes rescues puppies thing anymore, huh. Oh well. Guess you should pick another bandwagon team.
- San Jose Sharks: it’s a long shot but Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton winning would just be really great and if you don’t at least like the Sharks then I do not understand you.
- Ottawa Senators: because we do not have enough gifs of Guy Boucher Dramatically Yelling, and because you want the Anderson family to have some fun so they can take their minds off of life stuff.
- Toronto Maple Leafs: is your attachment style “emotionally unavailable attractive human beings who will immediately completely DESTROY YOUR HEART even though they are so shiny and pretty to look at”? Here’s your bandwagon team.
- Calgary Flames: is your attachment style “kind and reliable partner who will love you back but your relationship will be mostly uneventful and you won’t conquer the world together but sometimes you’ll go out for a nice dinner but nothing too fancy but you’re kind of okay with all that”? Then cheer for these guys.
- Nashville Predators: P.K. Subban. P.K Subban. P.K. SUBBAN. P.K. SUBBAN WITH A CUP.
Is your favourite NHL team not going to be in the postseason? It’s probably because they’re a bunch of jerks. Or they had lots of injuries, or bad luck, or terrible players, or LALALALALALA THEY CAN’T HEAR YOU EVERYTHING IS FINE LALALALA.
In any case, if you still haven’t decided on a team to root for during the playoffs that you will immediately forget about as soon as their playoff run is over, here is a useful guide for you. The teams are listed in order of finish with at least one reason to root for each one. Well… for the most part. Special thanks to Julia, for doing some Very Important Research for this piece.
- Washington Capitals: How great would it be to watch Alex Ovechkin finally win a Stanley Cup? He’ll be handed the cup. He’ll do a little skate with it. He’ll hand it over to like Justin Williams or Braden Holtby or Nicklas Backstom or whoever. And then he’ll spend two hours skating around the arena with two middle fingers in the air.
- Dallas Stars: Are you that person who always wants to ride the most terrifying rollercoaster? Have we got a bandwagon for you. Expect lots of goals. Don’t expect lots of goaltending.
- St. Louis Blues: David Backes rescues puppies. No, I don’t use this every year. Really. Okay please don’t check.
- Pittsburgh Penguins: oh, uh, no reason.
- Chicago Blackhawks: So this is normally supposed to be a fun and lighthearted thing but I’m gonna get real for a second here. I cannot advocate this because I am extremely uncomfortable with the way the organization handled the accusations against Patrick Kane (or Garrett Ross, for that matter). And I loved this team. LOVED it. I just cannot come up with reasons to support it anymore. That said, I’m not here to judge anybody for cheering for this team, or the Kings, or the Flyers, or any sports team. Different people have different levels of comfort, so, you know, you do you.
- Anaheim Ducks: So that your and everyone else’s preseason prediction will have been right.
- Florida Panthers: Listen, nobody cares that you don’t get the Kevin Spacey thing. It’s fun. Also fun: Kindl puns. Also, Jaromir Jagr. Also, Roberto Luongo. Also, Aaron Ekblad. Also, Aleksander Barkov. Also, Jonathan Huberdeau. Also, Erik Gudbranson. Also, Willie Mitchell. If you hate fun, then don’t cheer for the Florida Panthers.
- Los Angeles Kings: Because they are going to win the Stanley Cup.
- New York Rangers: Are you that person that never rides the terrifying roller coaster, or goes to the amusement park, or leaves the house? Here’s your bandwagon team, enjoy.
- New York Islanders: We still love them, right? The novelty hasn’t worn off?
- San Jose Sharks: By the end of the playoffs Joe Thornton and Brent Burns will be able to pass the puck to each other with their facial hair.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: Really just cause this was supposed to be their year and lots of bad luck things have happened and you really still can’t bring yourself to dislike them so this is your pity bandwagon team for this year.
- Philadelphia Flyers: It’s going to be an emotional time in Philadelphia and you can’t help but want the team to put up a decent fight against the heavily-favoured Capitals. Sports will provide a (very temporary) distraction for as long as the run goes.
- Nashville Predators: Listen, Nashville is awesome. Awesome. You should go. That’s all I got.
- Detroit Red Wings: This one’s pretty obvious. Pavel Datsyuk is going home. We want to see as much of him in the NHL as possible before he does.
- Minnesota Wild: There is absolutely no reason you should cheer for this team.
- Okay so I forgot to take pictures of everything but take my word for it (why would I lie to you) Pittsburgh is beautiful and awesome and super fun.
- The photo credit for the above belongs to Ashley. That was a fun post-dinner adventure and we totally didn’t almost get murdered that night.
- Penguins game: the arena is really nice and they sell all kindsa booze in it which is really important and also I got a selfie stick and a nice compliment on my hair so now I’m in love with the place. Not enough people seem to be going though what’s wrong with them I’ll take their tickets if they’re not going to use them.
- The game we went to had everything. Sid scored finally. On the power play, too. PHIL! scored also. It went to overtime and there was a failed coach’s challenge and even a scoreboard proposal. And of course the requisite bros yelling at the Penguins to shoot the puck through zero available shooting lanes and five Florida Panthers.
- I was excessively spoiled in Pittsburgh. Thank you to Adam K for taking me to the game and getting me way drunker than anyone should be on a Tuesday night and for the talk about life and boys. Thank you to Carrie and Mike and Adam G and Luke and Angie for coming out to hang out. Also thanks to Mike for talking me out of cancelling the whole thing because I almost did because anxiety is an asshole. Also thanks to Angie for my new Pirates tshirt. Thanks to Sean for driving me everywhere and dealing with me all day. And thanks to Ashley for everything and being such a good friend and I’m so glad we finally got to hang out and have a girl’s night ish. Next one’s in Montreal.
Hi hello I still have this blog apparently. I figured I would make use of it right now because I am the kind of happy exhausted that you don’t get to be very often. You know the kind I mean. Anyway, here are some highlights from the Detroit part of my road trip.
- Don’t ever let anyone tell you about Detroit. Seriously. This is the second time I’ve been here and the first time I was so scared of everything because of what I had heard that I wouldn’t let my friend do a bunch of the stuff she wanted to do. I was far braver this time and even did a few things by myself. Guess what? It was amazing.
- That said, don’t be stupid. Ask people you trust who know the city about the things you want to see and they’ll tell you where not to go.
- I got lost here three times, because my GPS and I were having communication issues. That was legitimately terrifying.
- Joe Louis Arena is one of the greatest places to see a hockey game and I will hear no arguments. I love it so much and will miss it terribly. It’s just so very… hockey.
- I have always been a little obsessed with Michigan Central Station and was finally able to get kiiiiinda close-ish to it. I cannot even begin to describe my feelings about it. I really hope they figure out what to do with it (without tearing it down).
- Another cool thing: during the half marathon it was in sight for a few chunks of the course.
- Do not ever run a half marathon a week after a car accident.
- But didn’t I sign up for the full marathon, you say? I did. Then I went out four or five nights a week all summer so I didn’t feel like my training was on schedule. Downgraded to a half and it was still an amazing experience. I would definitely recommend it to any runners.
- Running across the Ambassador Bridge as the sun was rising is definitely among the top highlights of my life.
- Another highlight: seeing so many friends. People are so amazing and I am lucky to have such wonderful examples in my life. Thanks especially to Keith, Agnes, Megan, Jen and Zac and D, and Kyle.
- Thanks to everyone who supported me and was happy for me about today’s race. I feel so loved right now. I love you all back.
True story: when I went to write this, I realized I had forgotten the password to this blog. It’s been a while since I’ve liked hockey or writing or writing about hockey (feel free to ask… in private) but I think I am back now. And this is a blog tradition, so here you go, in order of their finish in the league standings, reasons to bandwagon each team in the playoffs this spring.
- New York Rangers: Perhaps you did not know this, but a lot of people hate the New York Rangers. You did not know this? Have you ever communicated with another human? Anyway, if you can stomach it, you should cheer for this team because they’re probably going to go far. Safe horse to bet on.
- Montreal Canadiens: Because Carey Price needs a Conn Smythe to go with his Jennings and Hart and Vezina and cowboy handsomeness. And because the longer you get to watch P.K. Subban play, the better your quality of life is. It’s science.
- Anaheim Ducks: Ew. Um… go California hockey, most of the hockey writers haven’t seen the sun since August and they’re looking translucent.
- St. Louis Blues: Because David Backes rescues puppies (do not look at any of my previous bandwagon guides this is totally not the reason I use every single year).
- Tampa Bay Lightning: Because they are Tampa Bay Likable. Seriously is there anything to hate about this team?
- Nashville Predators: Reminder that Mike Ribeiro is being accused of sexual assault and the media keeps writing Mike Ribeiro Redemption storylines and glossing over that part.
- Chicago Blackhawks: So over anyone hating on Jonathan Toews and saying his face looks like a foot and he’s whiny and tantrumy or whatever. He’s Jonathan Toews and he is better than you, unless you’re, like, Sidney Crosby, so go away.
- Vancouver Canucks: Remember a few years ago when their fan base was the most obnoxiously annoying one in the universe? Not anymore! The team and fans are kind of fun now. Go not-really-underdog-underdog team!
- Washington Capitals: Much like Tampa Bay, they’re a really likable team. Also if you’ve had enough of bad writing about Ovechkin and how he isn’t magnificent… I am sorry to tell you that even if this team wins the Stanley Cup and he wins the Conn Smythe that horse shit is not going away.
- New York Islanders: Because come on how fun would it be to see them beat the Rangers?
- Minnesota Wild: Because their insecure fans might be marginally less annoying if they get some wins. On the other hand, they might get worse. How about just don’t bandwagon this team and find another one.
- Detroit Red Wings: It is in your best interest that your rival team not sign Mike Babcock this summer. You want Detroit to win lots of games and entice him to stay. This won’t happen, but just so you know in case the Leafs or Bruins get him, the rest of us have gotten together and signed a secret agreement to blame you for not bandwagoning the Red Wings hard enough.
- Ottawa Senators: If you like underdog stories or feel-good stories, have we got the team for you! But if you have been a sports fan for any length of time and you know that dreams are only there to be crushed… well, have we got the team for you!
- Winnipeg Jets: There is no such thing as “deserve” no matter how long a playoff drought or a “having an existing team” drought a city has been through. But these fans can be obnoxious jerks sometimes and we all know jerks are irresistible… for a little while until you get your self-esteem back. Wait are we still talking about hockey?
- Pittsburgh Penguins: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Okay but I found like five or six Penguins fans I do not want to keelhaul and I love them very much so… I’ll still say nothing at all.
- Calgary Flames: We thought it would be good for Slava Voynov to be around his teammates when LA violated the terms of his NHL suspension, the Kings GM said. K BYE, the Flames said. Go Flames.
A little over a month ago, I ran a half-marathon. I didn’t run it very fast, but I also completed the 21K without getting injured for the first time ever. It still took me almost a week to recover. I felt like craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap. When you train for an event, you eat one of two ways: the way “they” tell you to eat, balanced and with enough carbs and protein to fuel your training and recovery, or the way the mentally unhealthy part of your brain tells you to eat. You know, the part that tells you that “you run enough these days that you can just eat whatever you want.” I don’t want to turn into one of those people that food-preaches at everyone, so all I’m going to say about that is that it really, really, really did not end well for me.
So… I decided to do this thing. A 30-day clean eating challenge, from October 1st to October 30th. I literally followed a For Dummies guide, because while I’ve lost tons of weight in the past by counting calories, I never actually bothered to worry about things like, you know, nutrients. I did it so I could stop feeling like crap and so that I could retrain myself to eat properly for good because I need to lose, like, a LOT of weight, especially since I have my heart set on finishing a full marathon next year. You know when you’re a kid and you learn about anytime foods and sometimes foods? That’s what this was.
Some notes from my challenge:
- Here is a secret about eating clean: it is not hard. It is impractical and inconvenient, but it is not hard.
- There’s so much time involved, and I’m a busy-always-overwhelmed-help kind of person to begin with, so this took some getting used to. I had to force myself to set aside time because there’s just so much more grocery shopping, prepping, cooking, and dishes to do.
- Oh my God all the dishes.
- Dishes are my least favourite chore.
- Down with dishes.
- A thing that made my life easier: it eliminated a lot of decision-making, since I didn’t even bother going into the packaged food aisles in the grocery store and mostly limited myself to stuff I can cook with.
- I prepped all my meals in advance, so I ended up spending less than half the money on groceries and food court lunches and stuff. Seriously.
- I loved that my stomach was happy for the whole month. No heartburn, no indigestion, no pain, no complaints. On day 31, we had a halloween potluck at work. I ate okay, calorie-wise, but there was a ton of prepackaged “outside” food. I felt like crap again for the whole day.
- I would say the best thing about it was the elimination of all the sodium and sugar from my diet. I just had so much more energy all the time.
- I sound like a commercial.
- The worst thing about it was… chicken. I hate chicken. I hate handling it, cooking it, eating it, being around it. *unless it’s breaded and deep-fried* I tried for the first week, because it’s a calorie-friendly budget-friendly source of protein, but since then I can’t even think about chicken or any poultry without feeling nauseated. That smell…
- A weird thing that happened is for some reason I’m more sensitive to smells now.
- Everyone told me to eat brown rice.
- They all forgot to tell me it tastes terrible.
- I didn’t miss alcohol. Really.
- I’m the kind of person who eats squash and actually enjoys it now.
- I love my friends and family so much. So supportive, sending me recipes and giving me tips and encouraging me and checking in.
- Email me if you want any of my recipes.
- The plan from now on is to keep eating clean and working out, with one cheat meal a week if necessary.
- The scale says I lost 11 pounds.
- The mirror says I don’t really look different, except maybe a little around the middle.
- My clothes say my waist has shrunk a lot.
- My eyes say my feet are shrinking. I’m not joking.
- My brain says…
- Oh look, we’ve arrived at the hard part.
The actual eating clean part is not hard. You get used to it, and make it your life. But the mental part of this, or any weight loss process, is a living nightmare. I feel like a hypocrite most of the time. I don’t practice what I preach. I talk about body acceptance and self acceptance all the while believing (and I don’t know how to stop) that I will never deserve love (from myself or other people) unless I weigh below a certain number of pounds. I try to be a feminist (even if I am a bad one) and I am still trying to fit into some stupid patriarchy-perpetuated ideal of what a woman should look like and I am finding it impossible to be okay with myself unless I do. I don’t judge most people by their outward appearance but it seems to be the only standard by which I judge myself. And while the benefit of what I am doing is my body is getting healthier by the day, I feel like I’m letting my mind get sicker at the same time.
One thing that people always tell me is to be kind to myself. Sometimes I get messages from people I haven’t heard from in a while, out of the blue, reminding me to be kind to myself. Which kind of makes me wonder what I must look like to other people if they’re always telling me to do that. Maybe I do beat myself up too much, but I don’t know that it’s any worse than what most people do. And to be quite honest, as of late I’ve done some things that I’m not very proud of and I don’t think I should be allowed to be okay with that just because I’m generally too hard on myself. It’s probably true, however, that in general I DO need to be kinder to myself. Maybe the best way to do that, regardless of my body image (which I still need to work on), regardless of my feelings about this (which I still need to work on), regardless of my life circumstances (which I still need to work on), is to just be healthy. Eat well, sleep well, work out. Train for that marathon.
When you’re doing it for health reasons, it’s a good thing. When you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, it’s a bad thing. What is it when I am doing it for both?
We left Montreal on Thursday before rush hour started, took the right bridge off the island, didn’t wait too long at the US border, made very efficient pit stops, and were beginning to feel good about time, until the New Jersey turnpike ate us. Right at the very end, before the last exit to Philadelphia. I don’t know why the Jersey turnpike hates me but I have literally never been on it without getting emphatically stuck in traffic. So we got to the bar late and missed a lot of people we wanted to see, although we were very happy to see the people that were still there. Hi, very drunk people that were still there! You will not believe how drunk you were.
- We also briefly met Jamie McLennan, who is, like, the greatest human.
- On Friday morning, the lovely Bo took me to a panel discussion that we thought was going to be between Gary Bettman, Paul Holmgren, and Flyers COO Shawn Tilger. We got there, and, hey, we found ourselves sitting LIKE TEN FEET FROM CLAUDE GIROUX. CLAUDE GIROUX. MY CLAUDE GIROUX. It was awesome, except the part where I told the Flyers COO I am not a Flyers fan and Bo had to explain my Flyers feelings. What a Laura thing to do. Anyway, Bo is the sweetest and I’m very grateful for the experience. Also Gary Bettman is way funnier than you’d think.
- I randomly ran into the beautiful Caity Kauffman and Chelsea Clyde on the street. We recognized each other and screamed and hugged like they do on TV as people looked on like we were insane.
- Then I met up with Becca and Amanda and we went to get cheesesteaks. We each got a cheesesteak. None of us could finish a cheesesteak. Seriously they should put a warning on there. “You will not be able to eat more than half of this or your stomach will explode. Share with your friends.”
— Mike McLaren (@MikeMcLaren) June 27, 2014
Also there was an apple dumpling situation at Reading Terminal Market. The situation was you should try one.
- We went on a tour of the city, and holy crap is it gorgeous. The parts they show you, at least. I know Philly has some really sketchy bad areas but there’s so much history and old things and nerdy things and that was pretty much all we saw. I think my favourite part was the Art Museum Steps.
- Then we went to the first round of the draft. Read Down Goes Brown’s story from the draft, because he can write it better than any of the rest of us can. I really like the SUCKS thing, because Flyers fans are assholes who acknowledge that they’re assholes and I kind of love that it’s their thing. The only thing I can add that McIndoe didn’t mention is that one order of Crabfries is the size of a bucket.
- (Berkshire was covering the draft for Habs Eyes On The Prize, and EOTP draft coverage can be found here if you’re interested in actual hockey things.)
- Right as we were leaving Wells Fargo that night, they had fireworks on at the ballpark. One thing about Philly sports venues is that the ballpark, hockey arena, and football stadium are all in one place separated by parking lots and like some fan hangout thingy. When you’re coming from New Jersey and you take the exit towards them at night, it’s the prettiest sight for anyone with sports feelings. Sports feelings.
- We went to a bar called Bar. There were a lot of people there I wanted to say hi to, and I did, too briefly (HI COLLIN), but I missed so, so many people and I’m really sorry about that. Anyway, the bar called Bar had no air conditioning and so we went outside to get some air, and then we decided to scrounge for food, and then we found some degenerate hockey writers and had some drinks with them.
- For the record, I have a lot of intellectual crushes on lots of hockey-writing people and every single one of them that I have ever met (in Philadelphia and elsewhere) has been extremely nice in person.
- Anyway, I got drunk. Not too drunk, but just drunk enough to say dumb things (HI STEVE DANGLE).
The next morning we went to the second round of the draft, after which we went to a baseball game and ate fries out of a hat. Citizens Bank Park is an extremely nice ballpark. It’s not historic and it doesn’t have anything gimmicky like a stingray tank or whatever (seriously, Tampa?) but it is very much geared towards an awesome baseball game experience. Great visibility, clean washrooms, decent food, and a phenomenal view of the city. The Phillies are absolute shit.
- We went out for dinner and then karaoke, but I got claustrophobic in that tiny room and ran away and found more degenerate hockey writers. Again, intellectual crushes who turned out to be lovely people. We all ended up at that bar at the end of the night and at least two people tried to lift me.
- Anyway, I got drunk. Not too drunk, but just drunk enough to say dumb things. For example I met Seth Rorabaugh, a Penguins writer, and said something like “I don’t like Penguins people but I follow you and I like your feed.” What a Laura thing to do. I hope he was too drunk to remember that.
- Sunday morning, Josh and I met up with the beautiful Amy briefly, then picked up Andrew and started to head home. Somewhere in New Jersey, we had a near death experience, but all three of us survived my driving intact, and I feel like we are closer friends because of it. We dropped Josh off in Albany and got home safe eventually. The important part of the drive home is that is on the way home I was learning about Canadian history from Andrew and then we somehow got onto the topic of the Emu War and if you haven’t heard of this you need to read up ASAP. It’s amazing.
- My thanks to everyone who bought me a drink, please know that I owe you two in kind, whenever I next see you.
- To all my friends I got to see for a brief period of time: it wasn’t enough. It never feels like enough, so please come see me so we can spend some more time together.
- Most of all thank you to Andrew, Becca, Josh, and Amanda, for being the greatest road trip buddies ever. I am a very high maintenance germophobe with anxiety issues, so putting up with me for that length of time takes a lot of patience and I love you all so much for it.