The series is set! The Vegas Golden Knights were eagerly awaiting their next opponent, and after an impressive shutout by Braden Holtby, the Washington Capitals are headed to Vegas. It’s quite the story; Alex Ovechkin is finally making his first career appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, in what could be his first and only shot at winning the long desired Cup. Only one thing stands in his way. An expansion team in their inaugural season. The funny thing is that 99% of the time this would be some insane underdog story of a team that somehow scraped together enough wins to make the finals, to face off against the Great 8 in a David Vs. Goliath showdown. But the reality is Vegas has absolutely crushed their way to the finals, proving the regular season was no fluke. Is Vegas even an underdog anymore? I’m not sure. I don’t remember the last time I watched a team cruise to the finals as easily as the Golden Knights. It’s mind boggling.
The big question of the series is, have the Capitals finally put the previous decade of disappointment in the past? It seems like it. Kuznetsov is playing lights out, leading the scoring race with 24 points, with Ovechkin right behind with 22 points. They will give Vegas a monumental challenge. Can Vegas smother the Capitals offense the same way they did the Jets? We’re going to find out!
I want to give Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson some love because I don’t think they have gotten enough. Those three have formed one of the best top lines in the entire NHL. They simply dominate every line they match up against. They are currently a combined +24 in the playoffs and lead by Marchessault’s 18 points. Nobody has had an answer for this trio all year.
Who might be up to the task of shutting them down? If anyone has a shot, it’s John Carlson who has continued his career year into the playoffs, tied for 3rd in team points with Nick Backstrom. He’s going to have to come up big and continue playing the way he has.
Finally it goes without saying, it’s time for Alex Ovechkin to prove he can be clutch on the biggest stage in the NHL. It’s his team and he knows it. He’s not getting younger and this could legitimately be the only time he plays in the finals. I fully expect beast mode out of him.
So whether you are cheering for the Golden Knights to continue their Cinderella story and make history, or one of the greatest goal scorers of all time to finally get his championship – this is a series of destiny either way you look at it.