Are you a new fan of hockey and wondering which NHL team to root for? Or maybe you’re looking to switch up your allegiance to find the perfect match for your personality and values. Whatever the reason, finding the right team to support can enhance your overall enjoyment of the sport.
But with so many teams in the league, how do you know which one is right for you? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Our guide will help you narrow down your options and find the NHL team that best fits your style and preferences.
We’ll take into account factors like team history, playing style, location, and even social media presence to give you a well-rounded view of each team. Whether you prefer a powerhouse franchise or an underdog squad, we have recommendations for every type of fan.
“When it comes to sports fandom, there’s nothing quite like that feeling of rooting for your team. Let us help you discover the perfect match for your passion!”
So if you’re ready to pledge your loyalty to an NHL team, keep reading. Who knows – you may just find yourself cheering on a whole new group of players!
Location, Location, Location
Geographic Advantage for Home Games
If you’re looking to root for an NHL team, the location of the team you choose can play a big factor in your experience as a fan. For one thing, choosing a team that’s closer to where you live could make it easier and more affordable for you to attend home games. This is especially true if you’re someone who likes to go to multiple games per season.
Not only will choosing a nearby team save you money on travel expenses, but also give you a sense of community as fellow fans often gather around local establishments during games. You get the chance to meet other like-minded fans and possibly even join them for game-watching parties or live games at nearby arenas.
Community Support and Fan Base
Another consideration when rooting for an NHL team should be how strong their community support is. A good way to gauge this would be to look at the size and passion of the team’s fan base. Typically, teams with larger followings have deeper ties to the community they represent which creates a stronger bond among spectators.
This not only gives you the opportunity to feel part of something bigger than yourself, but you’ll also experience goosebumps witnessing and being part of the amazing atmosphere created by passionate hockey fans who love and care for their team. Research has shown that large fan bases enjoy better ticket rates both locally and abroad due to increased market demand which translates into cheaper tickets for fans who may be financially constrained.
Transportation and Accessibility
An often-overlooked aspect when choosing an NHL team to support, is its proximity to accessible transportation hubs. Choosing a team located within a city hub or easy distance from such adds convenience, making it easier for you to travel and root for your team without any inconveniences along the way.
In addition, transportation links also facilitates access to other tourist attractions in the city making it easier to watch games as you combine a weekend hockey session with sightseeing. This is perfect especially if you love exploring new places while still enjoying great entertainment and getting the chance to cheer on your favorite NHL team at their neighborhood rink or somewhere they may be visiting away from home.
Team History & Tradition
Legacy of Championship Seasons
If you’re looking for a team with winning traditions, look no further than the Montreal Canadiens. With 24 Stanley Cup championships to their name, the Canadiens are the most successful franchise in NHL history.
The team’s glory days came during the “Original Six” era from 1942-1967 when they won an incredible 16 championships, including five straight from 1956-1960. The Canadiens also won back-to-back titles in 1971 and 1972, as well as four consecutive championships from 1976-1979.
Their most recent championship came in 1993, but the Canadiens have remained competitive over the years, making it to the Eastern Conference Finals six times since then. Fans of the Canadiens can take pride in the fact that they cheer on one of the most storied franchises in professional sports.
Founding Story and Early Years
The Montreal Canadiens were founded in 1909, making them the oldest continuously operating professional ice hockey team worldwide. Originally named the Club de Hockey Canadien, the team got its start when local businessman J. Ambrose O’Brien bought the rights to a struggling minor league team called the ‘Montreal Westmount’.
O’Brien renamed the team the Canadiens, after the French term for “Canadian”, reflecting both the team’s location in Quebec and the fact that many early members were of French-Canadian descent. Despite these origins, the Canadiens soon became synonymous with all things Montreal, attracting fans from across Canada and beyond to see them play at the historic Montreal Forum.
During the team’s early years, they struggled to find success on the ice. It wasn’t until the arrival of superstar forward Howie Morenz in 1923 that the team began to turn its fortunes around. With Morenz leading the way, the Canadiens won their first Stanley Cup championship in 1924 and made it to the finals three more times during the decade.
By the time the Original Six era rolled around, the Canadiens were a perennial contender, boasting a lineup that included legendary names like Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Jean Beliveau, and Guy Lafleur. Today, fans of the Canadiens can still see the echoes of this rich history in the team’s style of play, which emphasizes speed, skill, and attacking hockey.
“The Montreal Canadiens are not just another hockey club – they’re a dynasty.” -Mike Roy
Superstar Players to Watch
The NHL is home to some of the world’s best athletes, and each team boasts a number of star players who are worth watching. When choosing an NHL team to root for, it’s important to consider which superstar players catch your eye and capture your imagination.
If you’re looking for a team with explosive offensive power, look no further than the Edmonton Oilers. Led by two-time Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid, the Oilers feature one of the most dynamic and exciting offenses in the league. With snipers like Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins flanking McDavid on the top line, Edmonton is always capable of scoring in bunches.
If physicality and grit are more your style, consider rooting for the Boston Bruins. The Bruins’ bruising style of play is led by towering defenseman Zdeno Chara, who at 6-foot-9 is one of the tallest players in NHL history. Up front, Brad Marchand is as tenacious a agitator as they come, while David Pastrnak provides plenty of skill and scoring prowess.
Finally, if you’re looking for a goaltender to watch, look no further than Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Widely considered one of the best goalies in the game today, Vasilevskiy’s combination of athleticism and technical prowess make him an absolute joy to watch between the pipes.
Roster Analysis and Key Players
When evaluating which NHL team to root for, it’s important to take stock of each team’s overall roster and identify which players are likely to be key contributors over the course of the season.
One team that should definitely be on your radar is the Colorado Avalanche. Boasting an impressive mixture of veteran leadership and youthful energy, the Avalanche are a team on the rise. Led by superstar center Nathan MacKinnon and young defenseman Cale Makar, Colorado is poised to make noise in the Western Conference for years to come.
If you’re looking for a more established contender with a deep, talented roster, look no further than the Washington Capitals. With a core that includes superstar winger Alex Ovechkin, playmaking center Nicklas Backstrom, and dynamic blueliner John Carlson, the Capitals have all the tools necessary to compete for another Stanley Cup championship this season.
Finally, if you’re interested in following a team with exciting up-and-coming talent, consider rooting for the New York Rangers. With budding stars like Artemi Panarin and Kaapo Kakko leading the way, the Rangers are a team that could be dangerous sooner rather than later.
Player Development and Coaching Strategies
Some NHL teams prioritize veteran experience and proven production over developing young players. Others prefer to develop their own homegrown talent and prioritize coaching strategies that emphasize long-term success over short-term gain. The right choice often depends on your personal preferences as a fan.
One team whose player development system should impress fans is the St. Louis Blues. The reigning Stanley Cup champions boast an impressive array of young talent, thanks in large part to the team’s emphasis on drafting well and fostering a positive environment for player growth. Head coach Craig Berube has also been lauded for his ability to get the most out of every player on the roster.
Another team whose coaching approach prioritizes player development is the Carolina Hurricanes. Under head coach Rod Brind’Amour, the Hurricanes employ an aggressive, high-octane style of play that can be especially beneficial for young players looking to hone their skills and gain experience at the NHL level.
Finally, if you’re interested in a team that places a premium on veteran leadership and proven production, consider rooting for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Led by superstar centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins have been perennial contenders for almost two decades thanks in large part to their commitment to winning now rather than building for the future.
Top Performers and MVP Candidates
Every NHL season brings new players into the spotlight and old favorites continuing to perform at an elite level. If you want to follow a team with star power to spare, consider one of these three squads:
The first team on this list is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs’ roster is stacked with some of the league’s most exciting offensive talents, including center Auston Matthews, winger Mitch Marner, and former Rocket Richard Trophy winner John Tavares. These three stars alone are worth tuning in to see each night, and they make Toronto one of the most aesthetically pleasing teams in the entire league.
A second squad whose top performers should turn heads is the Nashville Predators. With reigning Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Roman Josi anchoring the blueline and do-it-all forward Filip Forsberg patrolling up front, the Predators boast some serious firepower at both ends of the ice.
Finally, fans looking for another established contender with plenty of star power can’t go wrong with choosing to support the Vegas Golden Knights. With dynamic wingers Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone leading the charge offensively and former Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury holding down the fort between the pipes, Vegas has all the tools required to compete for a championship once again this season.
Style of Play & Game Strategy
Offensive Playbook and Tactics
The offensive playbook and tactics of an NHL team can often determine their success on the ice. Some teams thrive on a fast-paced, high-scoring game while others focus on a more defensive style of play. Finding a team that aligns with your preferred style is essential in deciding which NHL team to root for.
A great example of a team that excels in offensive tactics is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Known for their speed and skill, they utilize quick passing and aggressive attacking plays to score goals. This strategy has resulted in them being one of the highest-scoring teams in recent years, including leading the league in goals during their Stanley Cup-winning season in 2020.
Alternatively, the New York Islanders are known for their tight defensive structure and ability to limit opposing teams’ scoring opportunities. They rely heavily on counter-attacking plays and solid positioning to create turnovers and capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes.
Defensive Scheme and Strategies
While a strong offense may get the majority of attention, having a solid defensive scheme can be just as important. A successful defensive strategy requires disciplined players who are willing to work together to shut down the opposition’s top scorers and limit quality scoring chances.
An excellent example of a team employing this approach is the Boston Bruins. Known for their physicality and tough defensive mindset, they frequently lead the league in fewest goals allowed. Their commitment to blocking shots and taking away time and space from their opponents leads to many frustrating nights for opposing offenses and helps make them a perennial playoff contender.
In comparison, the Vancouver Canucks have focused more on their transitional defense by using their mobile defensemen to push the pace offensively and transition into solid defense quickly. This style of play has allowed them to create more scoring chances as well as limit their opponents’ opportunities, leading them to some successful seasons in recent years.
Special Teams and Game-changing Plays
Special teams can be a game-changer during an NHL game. A great power-play or penalty-kill unit can often turn the tide in a tightly contested matchup. Finding a team that excels in these areas may be the deciding factor in which NHL team you decide to root for.
The Washington Capitals have been one of the best teams on the power-play in recent years, boasting a potent lineup featuring players such as Alexander Ovechkin and John Carlson. Their ability to score timely goals with the man advantage makes them a tough team to beat when they get into those situations.
The Colorado Avalanche is known for their speed and skill, which translates well onto the penalty kill. They prioritize pressure on their opponents by utilizing both aggressive forechecking and strong backchecking, making it difficult for opposing teams to gain momentum offensively while shorthanded.
Fan Culture & Game Day Experience
The NHL is not only about the sport itself but also about the fan culture and game day experience. It’s what makes every team unique and special to its fans.
Tailgating and Pre-Game Festivities
Tailgating has become a popular pre-game ritual for many NHL teams, especially in the United States. Some teams have parking lots designated for tailgating while others allow fans to set up their grills outside of the arena. The Buffalo Sabres have one of the best tailgating scenes in the league with fans arriving as early as 8 am on game days to start their party. Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators are known for their “Preds Party In The Park” which features live music, food trucks, and games hours before puck drop.
Stadium Atmosphere and Fan Chants
A great stadium atmosphere can make all the difference in enjoying an NHL game. Every team has its own traditions and chants that fans participate in during home games. For instance, the Carolina Hurricanes have their famous “Storm Surge” celebration after every home win where players skate to center ice and do a choreographed dance routine. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks have the iconic “Chelsea Dagger” song that plays after every goal they score at the United Center.
Merchandise and Souvenir Shops
Every NHL team offers official merchandise and souvenir shops for fans to purchase team gear. Merchandise includes hats, jerseys, t-shirts, and much more. The New York Rangers boast the highest average merchandise sales per-game according to Forbes. Fans of the Detroit Red Wings will want to check out the Hockeytown Authentics store near Little Caesars Arena which sells exclusive memorabilia including vintage items and game-used equipment.
Food and Beverage Options
The NHL has come a long way from just offering hot dogs and popcorn. Fans can now enjoy a variety of food and beverage options at games, including craft beers and artisanal sandwiches. The San Jose Sharks have partnered with local chefs to offer unique food items such as the “Crab Po’ Boy” sandwich and “Mango Habanero Chicken Waffle Cone”. Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens boast having one of the best poutine (a Canadian dish consisting of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy) stands in all of North America according to Insider.
Rivalries & Intense Matchups
Choosing which NHL team to root for can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the sport. One factor that can make the decision easier is finding a team with intense rivalries and exciting matchups. Here’s what you need to know about historical rivalries, recent intense matchups, and their impact on team performance.
Historical Rivalries and Trophy Games
- The Original Six: The six teams that formed the NHL in 1942 are known as the “Original Six” and include the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs. These teams have some of the oldest and strongest rivalries in the league.
- Battle of Alberta: The rivalry between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers dates back to the early 1980s and has produced some of the most memorable moments in NHL history.
- Battle of Ontario: The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have been battling it out since the early 1900s. Their rivalry reached its peak during the late 1990s and early 2000s when they faced each other in the playoffs three times in four years.
- Trophy Games: Some games between rivals carry extra weight because they involve competing for a trophy, such as the Stanley Cup or the Winter Classic.
“It’s one of those classic things like Yankees-Red Sox or Lakers-Celtics. It just brings more attention to hockey.” – Ryan Suter on the Battle of Alberta rivalry
Recent Intense Matchups and Close Calls
In addition to the historical rivalries, there are several recent matchups that have become incredibly intense and exciting to watch.
- Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals: These two teams have faced each other in the playoffs nine times since 1991, with the rivalry reaching its peak during the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin era of the mid-2000s.
- Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins: The past few seasons have seen these two teams battle it out for dominance in the Eastern Conference, often resulting in close games and nail-biting finishes.
- St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks: While not as long-standing as some of the other rivalries on this list, the recent matchups between these two teams have been extremely intense and physical.
“It’s a tight game. We know they’re a good team and we always seem to bring out the best in each other.” – Brad Marchand after a close matchup between the Bruins and Lightning
Impact of Rivalries on Team Performance
Rivalries can play a huge role in motivating players and creating a high-energy atmosphere both on and off the ice. Teams that embrace their rivalries and view them as opportunities to prove themselves often perform better than those who don’t.
For example, the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs have one of the oldest rivalries in the NHL. When asked about the importance of the rivalry, Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban said, “That’s part of our history. That’s what makes the game great. You want to be able to come into an arena like this and feel that passion.”
On the other hand, teams that fail to respond to their rivals may struggle to find success. According to former Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, “When you start losing ingredients of the rivalry, then all of a sudden it becomes meaningless games and one-sided things.”
Finding a team with intense rivalries and thrilling matchups can make watching NHL hockey all the more exciting. Whether you’re drawn to the history of the Original Six or prefer experiencing the drama of recent matchups, there’s no shortage of excitement to be found in the world of NHL rivalries.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I consider when choosing an NHL team to root for?
Consider the team’s history, geographic location, and players. Do you want to support a team with a long-standing legacy or a newer, up-and-coming team? Do you have a connection to a specific city or region? Are there players on a team that you admire or enjoy watching? Also, think about the team’s style of play and their overall success in recent years.
How do I determine which NHL team fits my personality?
Think about your values and interests. Are you drawn to a team with a strong work ethic and blue-collar mentality, or a team with flashy, skilled players? Do you prefer a team with a physical, aggressive style of play or a finesse-based approach? Also, consider the team’s fan culture and whether it aligns with your own personality and interests.
What are some of the most popular NHL teams and why?
The Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New York Rangers are some of the most popular NHL teams due to their long-standing history, large fan bases, and success on the ice. The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins are also popular due to recent success and star players like Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby.
Are there any underdog NHL teams worth rooting for?
The Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes are two underdog teams that have been making waves in recent years. The Hurricanes have a young, exciting team and a fun fan culture, while the Coyotes have a dedicated fan base and a strong commitment to community outreach.
What resources can I use to help me decide which NHL team to support?
You can use team websites, social media, and fan forums to learn more about each team’s history, players, and fan culture. You can also watch games and highlights to get a sense of each team’s style of play. Additionally, talking to friends and family who are NHL fans can provide valuable insight and recommendations.