LA Kings: Your rooting guide to the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

LA Kings (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports) /
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LA Kings Luke Schenn
LA Kings (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Central Division

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina would be an excellent bandwagon choice for Kings fans if Justin Williams were still there, but they’re still a solid pick anyway. This is a very good team that Kings fans don’t really have a reason to dislike unless you were a Hartford Whalers fan.

Florida Panthers

I’ve always said it’s unfair to say a place isn’t a hockey town if the team there has never really given the city a chance to show it can be. And since their miraculous run to the Stanley Cup Final in just their third season of existence in 1995-96, the Panthers have given South Florida little reason to get excited about them. They’ve only been back to the playoffs four times (not including last year’s Qualifying Round) and haven’t won a series. This is the most exciting team the Panthers have ever had, and this is a franchise and fan base that is long overdue for some success.

Also, root for them for our podcast producer, Manny.

Nashville Predators

Just a couple of months ago, it looked like the window might be closing on the core that got Nashville a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016-17 and a Presidents’ Trophy in 2017-18. It sounded like the Predators were about ready to start blowing things up. But then the team got hot and surged to the final playoff spot in the Central Division. This would be a perfectly fine feel-good story to get behind. You might even get a Brad Richardson appearance.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Root for the Lightning for those long-suffering Tampa Bay sports fans, who since October have only seen their hockey team win the Stanley Cup, their football team win the Super Bowl, and their baseball team go to the World Series. These poor folks have gone like three months without a championship now.

On another note, it would be cool to see Steven Stamkos actually get to be part of a Lightning Cup run. Also, did you know Luke Schenn was still in the NHL and has been playing pretty regularly for the defending Stanley Cup champs this year?