The Dallas Stars had a rough time of it this past week. These past two weeks really. And by rough time I mean that I, and probably many of you, are ready to pile them all into a rocket and fire them off into outer space.
This isn't the way the season was supposed to start.
And while it's early yet to throw in the towel, especially since we all know the Stars will turn it around this evening and never lose another hockey game again, let's freeze frame in this instant. What if it didn't turn around? What if the Stars were somehow able to compete in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes? Wouldn't it be considered pragmatic to start considering what surrogate team to cheer for in the event of a Stars-less playoffs? Just so as our interest in NHL hockey can last into the late spring?
Of course it would be.
So which bandwagons are the most ripe for dejected Stars fans/freeloaders to board? I know we can strike out the Eastern Conference as being unworthy of our attention. And surely none of you would consider supporting a Pacific Division team. Would you? Really? Traitors.
No, let's be honest. Some level of loyalty has to remain, and if that loyalty isn't given to the Stars, well then at least it will always lie with Conference III. But wherein? There lies the question...
We present here a handy guide for your personal bandwagon selection, starting with the least wise decision and ending up with a bandwagon that really should be bigger by now. And yes, it's possible that you disagree with my sound advice. In which case you're wrong. But I'd still like to know about it.
You're too late. It's obvious now, but last year was really the year of the Colorado bandwagon. Sure, they may not currently be the worst team in the Central Division - the name of the worst team temporarily escapes me - but unlike last season, where they exceeded even the wildest of expectations, this year they're conforming exactly to the party line. Namely, that they're not a good hockey team. And they're showing no signs of busting out of it.
Second from the bottom of the league in Corsi and Fenwick possession stats, and with the good numbers put up by Semyon Varlamov definitely not backed up by the, umm, backups.
You know those World War II stories you hear about sailors being rescued after their ship was sunk, only for the rescue ship to then be torpedoed? That's kinda what it would be like to jump onto a Colorado bandwagon right now...
Let's face it, their record doesn't even really matter here. Or how good they are. You are categorically denied access to the Chicago bandwagon. It's already full you see. Overbooked even. And while it might be frustrating to you that the majority of Chicago bandwagon spots are taken up by 'fans' who don't know which end of a hockey stick to shoot with, you, as a true hockey fan, will understand that this is not the team you are looking for.
Oh yeah, the Blackhawks did manage to score more than zero goals at home this week. In fact, they scored 7 on home ice, and another 5 away. So I guess they're getting a bit more back to form. No jokes anyway this week about them being last year's Minnesota Wild.
Upcoming: Lightning at home, then a quick trip to Detroit, and back to the Windy City just in time to lose to the Stars on Sunday.
Oh dear. A couple weeks ago a move towards claiming a spot on the Minnesota bandwagon might have been roundly applauded. They stumbled in the first week, but after that were playing an exciting - yes, that's the correct word choice - brand of hockey, showing off an offense that could actually score goals, with a defense living up to expectations and a goaltender exceeding them.
Unfortunately that law of regression kicked in and Darcy Kuemper suddenly began to look human, whilst in a dastardly series of coinciding events, the offense dried up and the Minnesota Wild found themselves playing in more games this past week than they scored goals. Two goals in three games isn't going to take you far, especially when you give up 11 across those same three games. Now, to be fair, in that 3-0 shutout endured in Ottawa, the Wild doubled the shot total of the Senators, putting 35 on net against 17 against. Too bad backup Niklas Backstrom let 3 of those 17 in and Craig Anderson didn't let any of those 35 in.
Do I like the St. Louis Blues? Not in the slightest. Would I recommend them as a good bandwagon? Actually, yes. They're 2nd in Conference III, behind only the Predators, and unlike Nashville, everyone expected them to be at the top of the Division. Plus, even if they've entered the last two seasons with high expectations and people predicting them to win it all, they never actually have won it all. So they gain some
pity sympathy points.
They had a pretty good week too, beating the New Jersey Devils twice in regulation. The Devils aren't terrible. Ok, they're not great either, but still. And the one loss for the Blues came at the hands of the Predators. The Predators are dominating the Division! Give a team a break for losing to them!
Actually, no. No breaks. I hate the Blues. And their bandwagon probably sucks too.
Upcoming: Host the Sabres, then the Predators, then the Capitals.
I'll admit. It was a toss up. The Winnipeg Jets have been on a roll the past two weeks, going a combined 5-0-2. Having had the 7th place spot in the division reserved for a while now, they instead have chosen to forge their own path, winning the hearts of a nation.
Or they would have, except it's Winnipeg.
A Winnipeg bandwagon might seem like a fun, unexpected place to find oneself as the hockey season continues, but be warned. Ondrej Pavelec has never stopped this many pucks in his life, and when he regresses, there's no way the Jets beat the mighty Predators or take the Penguins to a shootout. They might still beat the Senators, but we'll have to wait and see. In short, it's not going to be pretty.
Upcoming: Canadiens, Hurricanes, Predators, Wild. All on the road. Yeesh. I predict not great things for the Winnipeg Jets this week.
You knew this was going to be the case, didn't you? Who knew though before the season started that the Nashville Predators would even have a bandwagon? There hasn't been a bandwagon in Tennessee since Remember the Titans came out and everybody got confused about which team the movie was about.
Well, no more. The Nashville Predators, like the Columbus Blue Jackets, are a team everybody secretly roots for because nobody thinks they'll ever actually do well. Some kind of strange human pathos. Cheering for the underdog, knowing that they'll lose. Perhaps because that way we're not truly upset when they lose, but the potential for joy is magnified. Playing the odds. Hedging one's bets. Buying a cheap lotto ticket and forgetting you even have it until you win a million dollars.
However, in these dark times as a Dallas Stars fan, look no further than Nashville, where the Predators have owned the division from the word go. A team built of Dallas Stars rejects, playing under a new coach and a new system, and somehow defying all the pre-season odds delivered by snickering pundits.
Make some room on that country hayride, Nashville. I'm coming along for the ride.
Upcoming: Host to the Oilers and Jets, traveling to the Blues. Two quick Conference III rematches for the Preds, but the Stars will have to wait for their revenge.