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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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McGuinness: Ranking NHL 2024 playoff teams' goal songs

One of hockey's best traditions deserves the spotlight during the sport's best time of year

I began my time writing for The Observer with NHL columns. So, as a graduating senior nearing the end of their run, I wanted to return to my roots one last time. Not only that, but I’m also running back one of my favorite stories, written last year — a ranking of the goal songs of every team in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

There’s nothing more special than a big playoff goal in hockey, and having the right song is crucial to both amping up the crowd and savoring the moment. And with last year’s top two songs not in the field this year, plus some new teams entering the fray, there’s a lot to be decided. Here are my top 16, based on vibes, fun and whatever I enjoy playing on my laptop while watching along during finals prep.

16. Florida Panthers — ”Move Your Body” (Remix) by Öwnboss and Sevek

The reigning Eastern Conference Champions have a new song from last year, but it’s not enough to get them out of the basement. The song doesn’t do anything for me, nor does what feels like a half-hearted “Go Cats Go” chant throughout. Unlike the Panthers themselves, there’s no life to it.

15. Los Angeles Kings — “LA Kings Goal Song (Hey Hey)” by Twilight Trio

This song used to be so good, but a change to the beat and removing the iconic “I Love LA” tune in the beginning have rendered it more powerless than the Kings’ offense. It feels like the team missed an opportunity to create a new vibe during its rebuild after winning Cups in 2012 and 2014 to the original, much better version of this song.

14. Washington Capitals — “Kickstart my Heart” by Mötley Crüe

The Capitals use individual player goal songs — the bane of my existence — but this is their base go-to. I badly wish my Philadelphia Flyers could’ve been the ones being swept by the Rangers instead, but both teams have an equally disappointing generic rock song that was used by just about every team in the league at some point in the 90s.

13. Toronto Maple Leafs — “Panama” by Van Halen

Oh, how the once mighty have fallen. To be clear, that’s just about goal songs as the Maple Leafs continue to fall apart whenever the slightest bit of performance is required from them. But the scintillating energy of ”You Make My Dreams (Come True)” has been replaced by another unremarkable choice. The Leafs do have a different goal song they play against non-Original Six teams, but 1) it’s also not great; 2) having multiple songs is lame anyway; 3) they probably aren’t going far enough in these playoffs to get to use it.

12. Dallas Stars — “Puck Off” by Pantera

The broader hockey community seems to love Dallas’ horn/song, and has for years, but I’ve never felt it hits the same way. It’s not bad, but I need more creativity than repeating your team name ad nauseum. Bonus points for the horn blasting once for each goal, though.

11. Edmonton Oilers — “Fluxland” by Gaby D. Galstaun

I decided to keep the cadence of returning songs the same, but this song does have the feel of something that could grow in popularity if this is the year Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl make their Cup push. It’s a decent techno/EDM beat, but nothing to write home about.

10. Colorado Avalanche — “Chase the Sun” by Planet Funk

The first team on this list whose best part of their goal celebration isn’t their song or horn (I love the “woot woot” Colorado’s PA announcer and fans do after the reading of the goal scorer). ”Chase the Sun” has the same upside as Fluxland, the difference being it (aka the Avalanche) beat the Oilers in the 2022 Western Conference Final before winning it all a few weeks later.

9. Winnipeg Jets — “Gonna Celebrate” by The Phantoms

Like Washington, the Jets start with this song and then switch to a custom choice for each player about halfway through. I’m just grading the main track, which has been around since the team’s 2018 Western Conference Final run. A less depressing playoff history since then would probably have kicked this upbeat choice (which fits my taste) up a few spots.

8. Tampa Bay Lightning — “Goons” by Moana

The Lightning slightly upgraded when they chose to deviate from Fluxland after missing the playoffs in the 2016-17 season. They've made it every year since, including championships in 2020 and 2021. The Tesla Coils creating the Lightning-like sound effect behind the horn is amazing. The song itself has a solid beat and is easy to sing along to for the most part.

7. New York Islanders — “Crowd Chant” by Joe Satriani

The classic “yes, yes, yes” chant as this basic but OG stadium song fades out is one of the more well-known fan traditions in hockey. I feel like I shouldn’t enjoy the song as much as I do because of how basic it is (not to mention I’m pretty sure they stole it from the Minnesota Wild). But it’s hard for me to imagine an Islanders playoff goal set to anything else.

6. Vancouver Canucks — “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds

This is the first time the Canucks are playing playoff games in front of fans since 2015, and they’re doing so with the closest fill-in to “Dreams Come True” possible. There’s just a magical quality to this song, much like this Canucks team. It’s no “Holiday” from their 2011 Finals run, but I enjoy it.

5. Carolina Hurricanes — “Raise Up” by Petey Pablo

The Ric Flair “woo” at the end is back (maybe it never left?), which is another positive for an immaculate choice for a goal song on its own. Local tie in? Check. Tons of energy? Check. Deep playoff run to cement its legacy? Sorta … but this year’s Canes team looks good enough to erase any doubt about that.

4. Vegas Golden Knights — “Vegas Lights” by Panic! At the Disco

The goal song of the Golden Knights since day one almost reaches the podium this year after the team went all the way last year. Energy is needed for a good goal song but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the most hype choice in the world to get me going. “Vegas Lights” is the perfect encapsulation of a song that fits in that middle ground just right.

3. Nashville Predators — “I Like It, I Love It” by Tim McGraw and “Gold on the Ceiling” by The Black Keys

It hurts me that I wasn’t able to get this song any higher. It’s just a better version of Carolina’s in the tie-in with the city, both in terms of the country song and the custom Predators lyric at the heart of it. Underrated part: the transition to ”Gold on the Ceiling” for longer stoppages. It’s hard to pull off the two-song method, but Nashville does so flawlessly. Oh, and the post-goal crowd chants are second to none.

2. Boston Bruins — “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation

Another year, another dose of someone who supports like the Maple Leafs hearing this song as lying awake in bed late at night. It’s a great sports song on its own, but the Bruins players and fans take it to another level.

1. New York Rangers — “Slapshot” by Ray Castoldi

This song just feels hockey. It’s so incredibly smooth, with punches of excitement coming at the perfect moment to amplify an excellent beat. Mix in some crowd interaction with the iconic “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey Hey” chant, and you’ve got the best goal song in this year’s playoffs — and it might just belong to the best team in them as well.