The Chicago Blackhawks bid to become the first repeat Stanley Cup champions in almost a decade has come to an end. The Hawks were ousted in seven games by Central Division rival St. Louis in the first round. It's the first time since 2012, Chicago has failed to advance past the first round.
The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs will still go on. Despite the Hawks being eliminated, there's still plenty of hockey to be watched. The question for Chicago fans is this: Who do you root for now that the Hawks are done?
New York Islanders: The Islanders have former Hawk Nick Leddy on their roster and traded defensive prospect Ville Pokka to the Hawks. They also have John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, who are fun to watch. And after every home game defenseman Travis Hamonic meets with kids who have lost a parent like he did as a child. The downside to the Isles is Casey Cizikas, who was found guilty of manslaughter in 2009 after a rugby incident.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 1992. No.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Tampa Bay struck down Detroit for a second consecutive postseason. Bless you. This time they didn't even have Steven Stamkos in the lineup. The Bolts GM is Steven Yzerman, who was a star forward during the 1990s for Detroit.
Washington Capitals: The Capitals seem to have it all together, winning the President's Trophy and have arguably the best goaltender this season in Braden Holtby. There top two lines are filled with stars: Alexander Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie and Andre-Burakovsky-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams. Just imagine Ovechkin and Kuznetsov celebrating winning the Cup. It's wonderful.
Verdict - Washington Capitals
Anaheim Ducks: Anaheim has Ryan "no one can withstand that many hits" Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who the Hawks bounced in the conference final last year. There's no need to support them.
Dallas Stars: The Stars have former Hawks Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya, and prospect Stephen Johns on their roster. Dallas hasn't seen a championship parade since 2011 when the Mavericks beat the Miami Heat, and it seemed like the whole world was cheering for them. Chicago will cheer them on for the second round, but it should stop there.
Nashville Predators: Nashville is another divisional foe for Chicago that has irked fans and media alike. They put on a great All-Star Game, but there ticket operations drive to "Keep The Red" and other opposing fans is ridiculous. Nashville has never won a pro sports title, and hopefully they won't have one any time soon.
San Jose Sharks: The Sharks finally got over the hump and beat the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. Their general manager is Doug Wilson, a former Blackhawk, and there's Brent Burns' amazing beard. The downside of rooting for the Sharks is the recent success Bay Area teams have had. The area has had six championships since 2001 between the Giants (2010, 2012, 2014), Earthquakes (2001, 2003) and Warriors (2015). But they're the only non-Central team (as of right now) alive.
St. Louis Blues: No explanation needed.
*Note: The Ducks host the Predators in Game 7 of a first-round series Wednesday night.