Just because the hometown team is off the ice doesn't mean Minnesota's unrepresented in the quest for Lord Stanley's Cup. Here's a quick list of potential teams to root for based on the players that call State of Hockey home.
Matt Cullen, Moorhead
Reasons to cheer for them: Matt Cullen, formerly of the Minnesota Wild, is the main reason we can validate rooting for Pittsburgh the rest of the way. Cullen loves Minnesota. The former Spud turned SCSU Husky has bragged time and time about what a great state Minnesota is. You know it'd be one heck of a Stanley Cup celebration in the State of Hockey if he brought it home.
T.J. Oshie, Warroad
Nate Schmidt, St. Cloud
Matt Niskanen, Virginia
Reasons to cheer for them: Three northern Minnesotan boys on a team that includes one of the game's greats in Alexander Ovechkin, it's hard to doubt the strength of the Caps. If you want a winner, they're a solid choice.
Reasons to cheer for them: Ok, so there may not be any Minnesotans on the ice, but Phil Housley is doing a great job in his first season as assistant coach of the Preds. After upending the Anaheim Ducks, they'll be an underdog team to watch the rest of the playoffs.
Paul Martin, Elk River
Justin Braun, White Bear Lake
Matt Tennyson, Minneapolis
Reasons to cheer for them: San Jose is a team with a healthy mix of vets and young players. Paul Martin's Stanley Cup experience is sure to come in handy in his first year with San Jose. Also be ready to hear another Wild familiar name plenty: Brent Burns.
Alex Goligoski, Grand Rapids
Reasons to cheer for them: I know Wild fans, it's a bitter pill to swallow. Not only does Dallas own the franchise that was once ours, but they took us down to continue their playoff path. But hey, at least we could say we lost to the champs right?
David Backes, Spring Lake Park
Reasons to cheer for them: We might dislike Backes when the Wild square off with the Blues, but outside of that rivalry, he's a great player and even better Minnesotan guy. The Blues as a team are praised once again as a top-notch team with the smae physical presence that Wild fans have come to loathe. But that just might push them all the way. Not to mention the Blues defeated the might Chicago Blackhawks, so that has to count for something in our Wild fanbooks.
Brock Nelson, Warroad
Anders Lee, Edina
Kyle Okposo, St. Paul
Nick Leddy, Eden Prairie
Reasons to cheer for them: Four, count'em four Minnesotans dot the Islanders' roster -- the most out of any of the remaining playoff teams. On top of that the Islanders have a guy named John Tavares leading the team. Yeah, they're looking solid.
JT Brown, Rosemount
Reasons to cheer for them: Aside from Brown, the Lightning have another UMD alumnus in Jason Garrison, so an extra Minnesota tie. Plus, Tyler Johnson is the undrafted, late-bloomer that we love to see have success.