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LinkSpeak: 2016 Stanley Cup Preview (Not Presented by Subway)

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In addition to PEDs, money, questionable legal proceedings, condescension, elitism, Canadian exceptionalism, cultural appropriation, and electrolytes, nothing power NHL hockey more than food. As Nashville fans have learned in the latter half of the 20015/2016 season, that food is (but probably actually isn't) Subway. Subway offers hockey players the salt and carbs they need to perform at the same levels as the guy a few cubicles down from you who always smells of pickled peppers. He even keeps a jar of them in his desk because the Subway sandwichologist never puts on enough, he claims. Even when he asks for double extra, he exclaims. I'm going to start ordering from Jimmy Johns, he proclaims. And then you know that something in his life has gone horribly wrong.

The Sandwich King hides in the shadows
The Sandwich King hides in the shadows
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We all know that Subway has been key to the Nashville Predators success in the second half of the season in exactly the same way that Subway was key to the success of NBC spy dramdey Chuck. If it weren't for the unfortunately colored sandwich chain, the Nashville Predators would've had to relocate to Hoboken, New Jersey and pledge fealty to second rate sandwich factory Blimpie International. But Subway is not beholden to a single NHL team. Subway sits above the fray of the NHL, offering its inexplicably soggy bread to all who ask for a $6 dollar foot long (yes, it's six now... apparently the Walmart of sandwiches couldn't shave their margins as thing as their cellulose-esque meats).

Another thing we know is that On The Forecheck is powered by several of the most thoughtful and talented independent sports writers in Nashville. Over the course of this week you will have seen and continue to see countless facts, analyses, and thoughtful explanations of the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. What you will not see are the real articles that come from the gut. Articles tell you that what you see and observe rarely measures up to what you feel deep in your gut. And I know that the best way to satisfy your guttural needs is through food. Therefore I present to you, Link's Subway Sandwich Stanley Cup Playoff Preview (in no way affiliate with Subway or Roman Josi). Let's break down these sandwiches!

Eastern Conference

Florida Panthers vs New York Islanders

Florida vs NYI

Turkey Breast vs Bacon Egg and Cheese on Flatbread

The Panthers are an oddball team with a surprisingly conventional fan base comprised of sunbelt and relocated fans. Further they are palatable to basically everyone, much like a basic turkey cold cut sandwich. The toppings and dressings are what makes a turkey sandwich, much like players like Roberto Luongo and Jaromir Jagr add much needed personality to the team.

The Islanders have a long haul from their homes and practice facility to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The team needs fuel in order to make those early morning treks into the city, and what better to fuel those drives than bacon, egg, and cheese on a toaster yoga mat? Yum.

Florida in 5

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings

Tampa vs Detroit

Old, Round Sandwich vs Rotisserie-style Chicken

Injuries to key players have stripped away much of what makes Tampa and interesting and dangerous team. Essentially, they are not representing their full potential and are likely to be a surprising candidate for an early exit from the playoffs, much the same way the the pointless sandwich rounds where retired from the menu and never missed by anyone.

Rotisserie-style chicken is to rotisserie chicken as Dylan Larkin is to Barry Allen: not the same thing, please stop advertising them as such. Subway's rotisserie-style chicken sandwich is an impostor in much the same way that Detroit is "Hockeytown."

Who cares. Neither team is winning the Stanley Cup this year.

Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers

Washinton vs Philly

Roast Beef vs Steak & Cheese

A roast beef cold cut sandwich is the ultimate almost-great sandwich. With the judicious application of heat through baking, toasting, or steaming a cold roast beef sandwich can be easily elevated. The Capitals are a team of roast beef cold cuts. The question is if Barry Trotz can overcome the label of being a poor post-season coach and given the Capitals roster the toasting that they deserve.

I appreciate that Subway doesn't call their steak and cheese sandwich a Philly Cheese steak, it's a nice gesture. I'm returning the gesture by adopting Subway's variant on Philadelphia's signature hoagie as the avatar for the Flyers. And it makes sense. The core of the team is so important to their success, but the little details like Radko "Green Peppers" Gudas and the health of Michael "Mushrooms" del Zotto will dictate the over success of the team.

Washington gets toasted in all the wrong ways, Flyers in 7

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers

Pitt vs NYR

Spicy Italian vs Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki

The spicy italian sub is all about the one-two punch of salami and pepperoni. Sound familiar? Because the Penguins will rely on the one-two punch of Crosby and Malkin. Take those two out of the equation and you have a pile of wilted vegetables on a loaf of sadness, and that loaf's name is Marc-Andre Fluery

The Rangers take a more is better approach. Unfortunately, no one can identify what more is how it makes the team better. Is the chicken dry and bland? Slather it in sugar sauce. The team is missing scoring? Add an aging veteran who's having a bad season. Eric Staal is supposed to be the Rangers' sweet onion sauce, which only results in massively insulting an iconic Japanese cooking technique.

Penguins in 4

Western Conference

Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild

Dallas vs Minnesota

Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt vs Egg & Cheese on flatbread

I have no analysis here. These just feel so right to me that I think the pictures and descriptions speak for themselves.

Dallas in 5

St Louis Blues vs Chicago

Provel vs Cultural Appropriation

Tuna vs Cold Cut Combo

The complexity and personality of the Blues are constantly at risk of being lost beneath the oppressive mayonnaise of Ken Htichcock's team philosophy and management. And please, please do not ask for cheese on your tuna sandwich.

The cold cut combo is predictable, balanced, and satisfying to to the palettes of those who don't like to spend a ton of their time on thinking. Also...

What is this...

Turkey-product 1

nononononononononono

Turkey-product 2

What. The. Hell.

Chicago in 6

Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks

LA vs San Joise

Subway Club vs Meatball Marinara

Oooo... Subway Club, you are so fancy. You are iconic in the sandwich world and what other Subway sandwich dream of being. The NHL may not admit it, but the Kings are everything that league wants teams to be. LA combines skill, size, and aggression in a way that is both classic and, thanks for Daryl Sutter, strategically progressive.

Have you ever looked into the meatball marinara pan near close? How long have those meatballs been in that pan? "Longer than you'd like to know" is probably the answer. The Sharks are full of forgotten meatballs. Even when you know better, you're still going to walk into that Subway, moments away from closing, and order a sandwich built from meat-based M&Ms, covered in a red paste that might have once between steaming marinara.

Sharks in 7

Anaheim Ducks vs Nashville Predators

Anaheim vs Josi

Veggie Delite vs Carved Turkey & Bacon

Anaheim is in California and all proper Southerns know that all Californians only eat kale and air. This is patently false, but Ducks fan and editor of Battle of California Jer Dobias is vegan, so I'm trying to be considerate. Granted, I still don't think he can or would eat a Veggie Delite from Subway, and I fully support that decision.

You knew this was coming. Why even read this? The carved turkey and bacon was selected as the official sandwich by legendary goal scorer Filip Forsberg and Swiss sandwich shill Roman Josi. Will the the Predators carve up the Ducks like turkey and then have bacon for mercy? Who knows.

Roman Josi in those sweet, sweet sandwich dollars ($$$)