Capitals vs Golden Knights Stanley Cup Final 2018
Rarely does an event exceed its own hype, but game one of the Stanley Cup finals between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals was one of the best openers in recent history. Instead of a low scoring affair, both teams blitzed the opposing defense, ending the first period with a 2-2 draw. Tom Wilson nearly destroyed Vegas with a borderline check on Marchessault and the leading goal only 1:10 into the final frame, but the Golden Knights rallied with three unanswered tallies, sparking Vegas faithful into a frenzy.
This victory extended the Golden Knights streak to five wins, including a gentleman’s sweep of the Winnipeg Jets in the western conference finals. Game two will be pivotal for Vegas, because Washington’s proven capable of seizing a small window of opportunity throughout the 2018 NHL playoffs. The Capitals are no longer weighed down by the Curse of Crosby, developing mental toughness and confidence which helped them earn comeback series wins against the Bolts and Blue Jackets. Vegas will attempt to avoid another track meet, doubling down on defense in game two.For the first time all season, the Vegas Golden Knights finally looked like an expansion team, stumbling to a dispiriting game four loss in Washington, DC. A few posts and bad bounces over the first couple of periods snowballed into an insurmountable lead for the Capitals, who squelched a third-period Vegas comeback to finish with a 6-2 win in front of a rabid crowd in the U.S. Capitol. The Cinderella story for the Golden Knights will need a spectacular finish for Vegas to wear Stanley Cup slippers in 2018.
Game five returns to Sin City, where the Golden Knights have dominated for much of the playoffs. Despite the lopsided score, Vegas competed well against Washington a few days ago, which may be considered encouraging or damning, depending on point of view. Winning three games in a row against a Capitals club seemingly destined for the cup might not be realistic, but the Golden Knights will be a desperate team, aiming to avoid elimination in front of their own crowd. Game five will anoint a new Stanley Cup champion or extend the drama.
Capitals vs Golden Knights Preview and Predictions
Vegas First Bad Beat In Franchise History
There’s never a good time to lose, but the Vegas Golden Knights first three-game slide in franchise history arrived at the most important juncture of their inaugural season. As such, they face a quick exit from the Stanley Cup finals at the hands of a Capitals club which humbled Vegas a few days ago. Vegas didn’t look awful, putting in the usual energy and enthusiasm, but Washington’s lineup survived close calls in the first half of the game to skate away with a resounding victory.
History shows a strong trend against teams which fail to win two out of the first four games in any playoff series, but the situation becomes dire when this scenario rears its ugly head during the championship finals. The last time a team won the Stanley Cup after falling behind 3-1 were the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who returned from a 3-0 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings by winning four in a row. Since then, all 31 teams up 3-1 have clinched a ring.
The Golden Knights capturing the Pacific Division was a miracle, along with three playoff series wins over Los Angeles, San Jose and Winnipeg. Plenty of pundits predicted a Vegas loss in all three rounds, especially against the high-flying Jets. Instead, the Golden Knights survived all challengers, entering the finals as the favorites to win it all. Things started well with a big win at home, but the Golden Knights have run into bad bounces and a red-hot, resilient Washington. Vegas will need one final miracle to win the cup.
Golden Knights Thrive On Friendly Ice
One piece of good news that Vegas looks forward to is the fact that two of the final three games will take place at the T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights have emerged victorious in seven of nine playoff matches in Sin City. Both losses were tight contests, with the Sharks winning in double overtime and the Capitals requiring an outrageous save from Holtby to prevent a furious comeback from the Knights. As such, Vegas should enjoy a strong edge for game five, boosted by the raucous energy of Las Vegas fanatics.
Tough to blame the Flower for the Golden Knights woes, as the vast majority of Capitals goals were a result of power plays and odd-man rushes. However, the most obvious difference between Vegas in the finals compared to the previous three series has been the statistics of Marc-Andre Fleury. Over the past four games, Fleury has a .845 SV% while allowing an average of four goals per game. Prior to this slump, Marc-Andre rocked a .947 SV% and a miniscule 1.68 GAA. Put simply, Fleury needs to steal a game.
Snipers like Jon Marchessault need to discover a way to shake free from their shadows. The Capitals center depth and superb group of checking forwards have stifled the Golden Knights. Marchessault’s goalless drought now stands at six games, while the Vegas power play has transformed into a dreary routine. The ingredients exist for this rookie franchise to finish the season with a special run. Vegas maintains a solid level of play during their first three-game losing streak, and a couple of fortunate bounces could catapult this team back into contention.
Vegas Staves Off Elimination – For Now
Vegas didn’t look great in game four, despite the fact that they were playing structurally sound hockey. Games two and three could have gone either way, but Washington leveraged solid play and good bounces into gutsy wins. Vegas won’t fold after an entire season of playing their hand well. A big response from the Golden Knights is in order, so select the Vegas puckline (-1.5, +180) to maximize profit. Stick with the UNDER (5.5, -105), as neither team’s likely to give up a bushel of goals.