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Who should Minnesota Wild fans root for in the Stanley Cup Final?

Feb 11, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates his third goal of the game during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

One thing we know about Minnesota: The state will be watching the Stanley Cup Final.

The Twin Cities consistently show up in the top 10 U.S. markets watching the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs despite their team having been eliminated in the first round. So as we prepare for the Cup Final, let’s have a look at the arguments for and against Minnesota Wild fans rooting for the Eastern and Western Conference representatives…

The case to root for the Golden Knights

– No matter which team you like, you have to admit the Golden Knights are an amazing story. One year ago, they had zero players. Putting together a team from scratch and then making it to the Cup Final is unbelievable. It’s something out of a movie. It’s less plausible than Angels in the Outfield. It’s something you might do on a video game.

– Two key Golden Knights players are players the Wild gave away, Erik Haula and Alex Tuch. In Minnesota, Haula did not get as many opportunities to play big minutes in important situations as he’s had in Vegas. He’s also a former Gopher.

– The Wild have been competitive with a solid roster that lacks a Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews. There weren’t many examples of teams that made the Cup Final without an elite two-way center, but Vegas reaching the Cup gives some hope to the idea that a roster deep with talent can compete in the playoffs – so long as they get great goaltending. And if you thought Devan Dubnyk was a playoff choker, well, Marc-Andre Fleury’s career was defined in part by postseason meltdowns and now he’s carried an expansion team to the Cup Final. So Vegas can give you some hope, Minnesota.

– Nate Schmidt is one of us.

The case to root for the Capitals

– If you don’t like watching Alex Ovechkin, there’s no reason for you to be a hockey fan. Over the past decade, he’s been the NHL’s best goal scorers and one of the most exciting players the sport has ever seen. He plays with joy and enthusiasm and terrifies opponents every time he winds up. Talk about a great story, Ovechkin’s postseason letdowns have been a point of criticism for his entire career – though they were rarely deserved.

– Minnesota can take the lead as the most tortured sports city. Washington’s franchises haven’t done a darn thing since the football club won in the early 90s. They’ve rarely been relevant, but when they were, D.C. teams found ways to have disastrous meltdowns. If you take some pride in your commitment to these poor Twin Cities teams, you’d rather have the crown than be second place to D.C.

The case against rooting for the Golden Knights

– You might argue that the Golden Knights’ presence in the Cup Final is: A) A strong argument that hockey is super random B) Proof the league set up Vegas to win with crazy expansion rules.

– Why root for Haula and Tuch when they are just reminders of the Wild botching the expansion process?

– Pure jealousy. The Wild signed the two biggest players in free agency, they built up through a system of prospects, they found a franchise goalie, they signed a top head coach and yet they haven’t made it as far as a team in its first year. It’s OK to be salty.

The case against rooting for the Capitals

– Someone else should suffer too, right? The Twin Cities shouldn’t be alone in its disappointment.

– They let Nate Schmidt go

– Ovechkin has a 12-game point streak against the Wild and 15 goals, 25 points in 14 career games against Minnesota.


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