We were all expecting the Bruins to be a part of the NHL's final four.

 

We all figured we'd still be watching Brad Marchand and Co. defending their Stanley Cup title deep into May. Instead, Bruins fans need to find a different place to direct their Little Ball of Hate. With the conference finals in full swing, who should Bruins fans be rooting for, and more important, against?



New York Rangers

 

This one is a no-brainer. But there's actually one really good reason to root for the Rangers: If they go on to win the Stanley Cup, they're already eliminated from contention next season, as no team has repeated since 1988. Might as well start clearing a Bruins path to the 2013 Cup as early as possible.

But, let's face it, who around here is rooting for the Blueshirts? Unless you're rooting for injuries.

 

Los Angeles Kings

 

There's actually plenty to like here, between the underdog nature of this No. 8-seed shocking the Canucks in the first round and steaming full-on into the conference finals. And the goalie, Jonathan Quick, went to UMass Amherst, a nice, solid local connection.

 

But, c'mon, this is L.A., and any team that shares space with the Lakers at the Staples Center cannot be rooted for by any self-respecting Boston fan. Sorry, it's non-negotiable.

Phoenix Coyotes

Let's face it, unless it's Robert Luongo and Vancouver or Joe Thornton and San Jose, it's a little hard for Bruins fans to work up a lather over the Western Conference. But if there's a team easy to dislike, it's probably the Coyotes and their suspended hatchet-man, Raffi Torres. Between Marc Savard and Nathan Horton, Bruins fans need no reminder how destructive a cheap head shot can be, and Torres took things to a new level in the first round against Chicago, when he needlessly leveled Marian Hossa. Tough to root for the team that employs that garbage.



New Jersey Devils

This might be the only team of the four the Bruins have trouble rooting against. There's the Martin Brodeur factor, an older goalie leading his team to Stanley Cup glory -- that played nicely in Boston last June.

And if you need a player to latch onto these next few weeks, who better than Zach Parise? The Bruins are expected to have Parise high on their offseason target list. Any team that knocks out both the Flyers and Rangers can't be all bad, can it?