Joe Gieringer, Columnist

The NHL Playoffs are well underway and as I write this piece, six of the eight series will require at least two more games to determine a winner. American interest in hockey has surged over the past five years, partially due to its exciting, electric playoffs, while players like T.J. Oshie boosted the profile of the sport on the Olympic stage in February.

Miami University in particular is known as one of the bigger hockey schools in the country. You’ll be hard pressed not to see a playoff team represented in the form of a jersey or hat on a Friday afternoon uptown, but just what does your choice in team say about you? Read on and try not to get your feelings hurt too much.

Chicago Blackhawks:

Yes, your defending champions have been one of the most consistent competitors since the 2004-05 NHL Lockout. Die hard Chicagoans are some of the most fierce and loyal supporters of any hockey team, professional or otherwise. Superstars like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane headline what is one of the deepest benches in the league. But the problem is, Toews and Kane (and a few other buzznames) are just about the only players you know. Has there ever been bigger bandwagon team to claim allegiance to? Even those that can name more than one line of players most likely started watching in 2010 during the Cup run that made hockey relevant again in Chitown. Yes, not all of you are guilty of this travesty, but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that the majority of you can’t name more than two players from the 90’s.

Boston Bruins:

Ah, the Bruins – a team that everyone loves to hate. The best team in the league and this year’s Cup favorite also holds the distinction of being the dirtiest team in the league. Players like Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand are your favorites because of their power-style hockey and bruising, take-no-prisoners attitude. Boston’s a tough city, and your hockey team reflects that attribute. They can fight, they can score, and you can plead ignorance of the occasional cheapshot that your team distributes. Still, they’re a force to be reckoned with, and have one of the strongest followings of any team in hockey.

New York Rangers:

You value great goaltending (see: Henrik Lundqvist) above all else. You’re from upstate NY or not too far from the Big Apple, and in the absence of a better alternative in the sports world at the moment you’re putting all your weight behind the Blueshirts. You’re too young to remember Mark Messier’s guarantee in 1994 and have known nothing but heartbreak, but hey, maybe this is the year.

Detroit Red Wings:

Like most Michigan natives, you’ve had nothing to cheer for sports-wise in your lifetime with the exception of U of M football and the Wings. The most successful Original Six team in the past 20 years has also made 23-straight playoff appearances, cementing them as a beacon of hope in an otherwise depressing city (no offense, but you have to admit it). You appreciate their don’t-quit attitude and the way they seamlessly transitioned from a veteran powerhouse to an upstart young-gun franchise. You’re loyal to a fault, and have some of the best hockey knowledge of any city due to your understanding of the Wings’ history. It’s not like there’s much worth knowing about the Lions anyway, right?

Montreal Canadiens:

“Look, we have 24 Cups!” Yeah, but they’re all from 1993 or before you were born. You can argue history all you want, but that doesn’t mean you’re the best now. Instead of focusing on the past, try getting by the Bruins and then you can gloat about your “Drive to 25.”

Philadelphia Flyers:

Like Bruins fans, you value hard-nosed hockey and a team that can fight as well as score. You’re notoriously tough on your players and insanely proud as a collective city. Unfortunately for you, the last decent goalie you’ve had is Ron Hextall and you’ll never trust the position again after that Michael Leighton mishap in the 2010 Finals.

Tampa Bay Lightning:

You’re from the South and by God, the Lightning are the only team on that side of the Mason-Dixon line capable of keeping up with the rest of the NHL lately. The following scenario is a perfect account of your one week of playoff hockey this year:

“We finally have a goalie! This is the year!” *Ben Bishop gets hurt. “I hate you, Canada.”

Pittsburgh Penguins:

You love the offensive side of the game and don’t mind the fact that your team takes more dives in the course of a full season than an entire Summer Olympic squad. Yes, everyone loves to hate Sidney Crosby. But he’s the Kid! How can you not like him? Move somewhere other than Pittsburgh and get back to me with that answer.

Los Angeles Kings:

“I have no idea what hockey is, but they won a few years ago and I’m from California so I love them.”

Anaheim Ducks:

You’re either an enormous Teemu Selanne fan, or are from anywhere in Cali that isn’t L.A. You’ve suffered through some heartbreak as a child, but that 2007 Cup was more than worth it. Oh, and you hate the current Ducks jerseys. Like, REALLY hate them. Where’s the Mighty Ducks purple and teal that you grew up with? I feel your pain.

Columbus Blue Jackets:

Oh, how you love the underdog. You’re probably from Ohio and just realizing that you’ve had a hockey team not 100 miles away from you for 13 years, but hey, there’s no time like the present, right? So trade in the scarlet and gray for the navy and white and “carry the flag” to prove to the rest of the NHL that Columbus fans are for real.

Colorado Avalanche:

Either you grew up a hockey fan in the 1990’s, or you’re from one of those odd, Western Plains states that don’t have much hockey near them. You’re excited to see Patrick Roy behind the bench and a young team full of promise, so you no longer have to hide that jersey in shame from all of those Red Wings fans that have been making fun of you for the past decade.

Dallas Stars:

“Wait, you’re telling me the Stars aren’t a football team?”

Minnesota Wild:

You’ve been biding your time ever since the North Stars left way back in the day, and finally you’ve got a fairly consistent product to put on the ice. You’ve most likely played hockey your whole life and grew up in those northern states, but it’s lonely down here in Oxford, so you wear your colors with pride. Maybe Ilya Bryzgalov will take you to the promised land? Oh, wait.

St. Louis Blues:

Ah, you’ve been waiting forever. The Cardinals might have your heart, but at least the Notes aren’t as big of a let down as the Rams, right? The Blues will suffice as your source of fall and winter entertainment for now. T.J. Oshie is an American hero and hey, you’ve got Ryan Miller this year, so if you actually know who he is you’re probably excited.

San Jose Sharks:

“Please, someone pay attention to me.”