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The NHL Playoffs: Who should Coyotes fans root for?

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Before the chaos of the offseason, here is a lighthearted look at the NHL semifinals for Coyotes fans. 

NHL: JUN 17 Stanley Cup Playoffs Semifinals - Lightning at Islanders Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft and Entry Draft loom about a month away. Time is running out for teams looking to acquire draft picks or finalize protection lists.

As the offseason ramps up, fans will be focusing heavily on next season. Arizona Coyotes fans will be pondering the next head coach and which players will be resigned.

Before fretting about next season, enjoy the rest of the NHL playoffs and four teams battling for the Stanley Cup. Coyotes fans may not have a horse in the race, but they certainly have reasons to cheer for some of the remaining teams.

Opinions will vary for each fan, but these are some general reasons why you should (or should not) root for each team.

The Vegas Golden Knights

For many Coyotes fans, seeing the Vegas Golden Knights go the distance would be a nightmare. Since their existence, they have always had success against the Coyotes. Their 14 wins in 20 games against the Coyotes is their third most against any opponent.

To add salt to the wound, a few Coyotes players have sustained injuries against the heavy Golden Knights

Many fans across the league would feel slighted to see a franchise achieve a cup so early in their history.

However, it may garner more respect for hockey in the desert. Unlike the Coyotes, the Golden Knights have had no issues with their fan attendance. They have proved that a desert location can work if the on-ice product is successful.

It also does not hurt that in the second round, they knocked off the Colorado Avalanche who made easy work of the Coyotes last season in the bubble.

The Tampa Bay Lightning

As for the Tampa Bay Lightning, there has not been much bad blood with the Coyotes over recent years.

However, it would simply be wrong not to mention that the Lightning’s active roster is almost 18 million dollars over the NHL salary cap. It feels like low-hanging fruit at this point, but it is the reason that many have chosen to root against them. They are not technically breaking any rules, but many blame them for finding a loophole in the league’s rules.

The Lightning also just won the Stanley Cup in the 2019-2020 season, so all their core players already have at least one cup in their career.

For most Coyotes fans, there are not too many reasons why they should root for the Lightning. At the very least, if the Lightning do win the cup, it would mean the Golden Knights did not.

The Montréal Canadiens

The Montréal Canadiens have surprised almost everyone by making it out of the North division. Despite this success, many have chalked it up to their opponents’ lack of prowess rather than their own.

Now, many believe the Habs have a mountain to climb as they face the Vegas Golden Knights in the semifinals. If the Habs manage to upset the Golden Knights, the hockey world will go crazy.

Some fans are also hoping Carey Price can add a Stanley Cup, the most coveted trophy, to his impressive collection. People may call it a fluke due to the playoff format this year, but it would certainly be a memorable cup run.

Americans love a good underdog story. However, this would mean rooting for the Stanley Cup to return to Canada.

The New York Islanders

It has been almost three decades since a New York team won the Stanley Cup. It has also been almost four decades since the New York Islanders won their four consecutive Stanley Cups starting in 1980. New York has always been a major hockey market for the NHL, and a Stanley Cup would benefit the league.

It would also be a proper sendoff for Nassau Coliseum which has been the Islanders’ home arena since 1972. Next year, they plan on moving to UBS Arena in Belmont Park. Their fans have been extremely loud and passionate throughout the playoffs.

Coyotes fans should admire how the Islanders have sustained recent success despite having little superstar talent. They deserve praise for everyone buying into their defensive system led by head coach Barry Trotz.

Some would call this suffocating neutral zone play boring, but it may end up being a winning formula. In fact, it may be a model the Coyotes consider following under new general manager Bill Armstrong.