The NHL will be champion for the first time this year. The only thing left to decide is which team will raise the Stanley Cup when it's all over. For the Washington Capitals, it's a chance to end some long-running bouts as the Vegas Golden Knights try to add a cherry to their incredible opening season. Both teams have the direct fingerprints of ex-caps GM and current Golden Knights boss George McPhee, and will provide a match with big goals, big punches, plenty of speed and a strong goalkeeper for all the thrills a fan can handle put.
Capital cities, it was a postseason of exorcising demons. In the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division, they took first place despite losing a number of role-playing players and having some of their big protégés struggling throughout the season.
"I think our group really understands what it means to be a team as you win," said goalkeeper Braden Holtby. "Maybe we've had more skill in the past or better on paper, but this team, everyone knows his role and wants to get involved, everyone is fine, I've never been in such a team, where we are confident in every situation It's a strong group, and it's extremely difficult to come back and do something that needs to be taken forward. "
Washington outlasted a tough team of Columbus Blue Jackets in six games ̵
Ovechkin struggled to find words to describe his feelings in the wake of the Game 7 win against Studs, in which he scored his 12th goal of the playoffs, but his teammates followed their captain's lead.
"I think Ovi was on a mission," said coach Barry Trotz to the media after the Eastern Conference final clinching victory. "You've seen a commitment that guys block shots and take hits, they stayed disciplined, there was a lot of will, our leaders were just fantastic … they made us go after the young people and encouraged them."
It There were a number of players who went up to the Cup final throughout the caps. Evgeny Kuznetsov (with a league-leading 24 points), Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and John Carlson led with Clutch goals, while Holtby came back into shape after a season full of turns, turns and bouts as he entered the playoffs as goalkeeper # 2 behind Philipp Grubauer. Now stuck in the Washington fold-his last two starts of the third round, the back-to-back shutouts, his first two since the 2016/17 season – he's about 200 feet down ice of a familiar enemy in Golden Knights goalkeeper Marc -Andre Fleury, his former rival of the Penguins
"He was the backbone of this team throughout the season and during this playoff," said Las Vegas defender Deryk Engelland to Kathryn Tappen of NBCSN over Fleury. "We are not at this point when he is not there."
The Vegas goalie has had an excellent postseason, stopping his team through an opening round matchup with the Los Angeles Kings, followed by a six-game victory in round 2 over the San Jose Sharks. The Golden Knights made fast work of the Winnipeg Jets in the final of the Eastern Conference, despite the young team's dominating season.
It was the last in an opening season full of surprises for the expansion team that started hot and never cooled off. on the shoulders of several players who had a fondness for their new home. Fleury played in the net despite lack of time because of a concussion, while William Karlsson, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault in the 2017/18 season quickly became one of the top lines of the NHL. The defenders Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt developed over the season to unwavering soldiers.
Although the Golden Knights have been so successful in their first season, they have won the zeal of some hockey purists in the Cup final – they have plans to end the most successful first season in sports history. By this time, everyone's surprise should have evaporated over their success as local casino odds declined and the crowd in the hometown grew rougher.
"That's how we like it," said Engelland. "We've been the outsider all season long, I think, you do not want to be the underdog, but we're fine with whatever anyone wants to say, we know what we have in this locker room a great group of guys, a great team, a phenomenal goalkeeping team, and we're just excited to be here at this stage. "
What can we expect from these two teams preparing for a collision? Best of Seven Matchup for NHL Supremacy? A quick look at some numbers shows a Stanley Cup final with something for everyone.
The soaring offensive play of Capitals, which scores just under 3.5 goals per game in the postseason, has to fight through a miserly Golden Knights defense, giving up only 1.8 goals per game. The Vegas frontlines need to take their chances as Washington only allows 28 shots per game, the second lowest in the playoffs. It may not matter that even if both teams can figure out how to camp in the other team's zone, they still have to figure out how to beat Fleury and Holtby – if they can get this far. In one piece: both teams have increased the physical game. Both teams scored about 21 goals per match in the regular season, but when the Stanley Cup's turn came, the corpses began to fly more often, with the caps collecting over 31 hits per game and the Golden Knights scoring over 39 hits
What happens is a guess – and in the next few days there will be plenty to read – but there is little doubt that it will be hard fought when some new heroes emerge and a franchise gets its name Lord Stanley Cup for the first time