NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018

Capitals tie series at one, heading back to Washington for games 3 and 4…

The Capitals have done the impossible! What a win for the Capitals last night though, not many expected this too happen a lot thought it was going to be a 2-0 Vegas lead heading into Washington and home ice was going to play a huge role in this series. But now for Washington they’re heading home with a tied series and the chance to go up 3-1 before heading back to Vegas for game five, HUGE.

The Golden Knights had the chance to win this game several times and something we have not seen Vegas do, but they did not counter on their chances. The Golden Knights had a 5 on 3 with minutes left in the third and then a wide open net that Alex Tuch got absolutely robbed on, and that was it, 3-2 Washington. 1-1 series.

The story here is Alex Ovechkin does anybody think this guy may be possessed by some Russian milk or something. He is not only scoring goals but he is absolutely ruining the Vegas defenseman and forwards. Ovechkin has now registered 9 hits in two games. I don’t know what Ovechkin is doing but there is something about him this year that is different. He certainly feels the pressure being in the Stanley Cup, getting older and realizing his window is closing but still, he looks locked in and ready to run through a wall. In game one when he got hit in the face with that puck, and just wiped it off like it was a fly, that’s when I knew ok this guy is probably not human.

This Golden Knights and Capitals Cup match up has been interesting series, totaling 10 goals in game on and 5 in game two, the goal scoring is there and it has been also a back and forth battle with non stop action. The good part the teams are starting to really dislike each other, that took a total of 24 hours. Anyways, the Golden Knights should not be too worried the Capitals have lost four games this playoffs on the road, so winning on the road is not impossible for Vegas as they have also won 6 games on the road this playoff season.

This series is going to go seven games I think though but the Capitals have to hope that Evgeny Kuznetsov is healthy for game three and the rest of this series or they are in some deep trouble. Nothing has come out about his injury but it looked to a be wrist injury after Brayden McNabb hit Kuzy late in the second period.

Game three and four will be in Washington, game three airs Saturday June 2nd and game four Monday June 4th. The positive to this is that Vegas and Washington get two full rest days to refocus, recoup and get back together. The Capitals need to utilize these two rest days to do all they can to hope Kuznetsov comes back for this series. Without Kuzy this is going to be even harder for the Capitals to win.

For now, game three in Washington, 8:00 p.m….

Video summary of game two below!

NHL Stanley Cup 2018

All You Need To Know About the Stanley Cup Finals: Capitals vs Golden Knights

To start for those that are here just because Vegas has made the Cup during their first year and has been following the Golden Knights narrative, one of the most exciting stories in sports, welcome! For those that are familiar with the NHL and these teams, sorry but the Golden Knights have drawn a ton of traffic and eyes to the NHL so there are some new fans waiting to know the logistics of these teams.

The Golden Knights posted a 51-24-7, 109 points, a top the Pacific division and being crowned the Western Conference champs while posting a 12-3 record in the playoffs thus far. The Capitals posted a 49-26-7, 105 points, a top the Metropolitan division, winning the Eastern Conference championship and posting a 12-7 this playoff run.

First Stanley Cup appearance 

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights winning streak

To start this is the first Stanley Cup in 11 years where two teams are in pursuit of their first ever Stanley Cup. One team has waited 20 years for this, another has waited 11 months. Vegas was officially welcomed to the NHL last off-season before the NHL draft and then the expansion draft began and their team emerged! The Capitals have been around since 1974, appearing in their last Stanley Cup final and their only one in 1997-98 where they got swept by the Detroit Red Wings. The Golden Knights well, they have been around not even a year yet, and have made the Stanley Cup so that is what you need to know in regards to them.

The way the Golden Knights team came about though? We have seen this a few times over the last 20 years, but they are what one would call and expansion team and the last expansion team(s) the NHL welcomed were the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild in 2000. Expect this time around it was done much different, the Golden Knights picked from all other 30 NHL teams based on what the other teams had protected and not protected. From there they chose their roster. The spin to it though a lot of players got picked due to George McPhee the Vegas GM working out deals with teams to receive a player and a pick so Vegas would not select a “good” player from their rosters. Well with that Vegas was able to choose 35 players from these rosters as well as additional draft picks.

Key players for Vegas 

The big names that come out of Vegas this year, well if you have not been watching the most obvious one. Marc Andre Fleury, the goaltender and possible Conn Smythe winner, Jonathan Marchessault Vegas’s pick from Florida as well as Riley Smith who came from Florida in a deal. William Karlsson the forward Vegas selected from Columbus, which they also revived 2 picks from this selection. As well as James Neal the 30-goal scorer from Nashville. Colin Miller the selection from Boston, Deryk Engelland from Calgary. The other players were also selected but these players have made a large impact on the Vegas roster this season and have helped propel this Vegas story further and further each month. William Karlsson tallied 25 points last season to an astonishing 78 this season, Marchessault tallied 75 compared to his 51 points last season, Colin Miller scored 41 points compared to 13 last season, Riley Smith scored 60 points compared to his 37 last season. It is safe to say that Vegas has gave these players a new life of confidence and have made them into some of the best players in the league right now.

Key players for Washington 

The Capitals, the players you need to keep an eye for these guys are Alex Ovechkin, the 7-time Rocket trophy winner, Hall of fame caliber player tallying 1,002 points in his career and also a possible Conn-Smythe NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018candidate this playoffs. Ovechkin draws the most attention to fans due to his off-ice personality and on-ice goal scoring and screaming. Ovi has been in the league for 13 years now reaching his first Stanley Cup. Braden Holtby the one-time Vezina trophy and William M. Jennings trophy winner, and back bone to this Capitals defensive end has been on quite the run as of late. Coming into the playoffs and essentially this whole year as not a starter the 28-year-old, 8-time veteran makes his first appearance as well. Nicolas Backstrom who has been battling an injury, but when in the line up has certainly helped Washington in key situations, as he has tallied 519 assists in 799 career regular season games, Backstrom has been a key piece to this Capitals roster for several years now. The new and emerging power forward Evgeny Kuznestov, Ovechkin’s Russian teammate and line mate has shattered some records this year being the youngest player to score 24 points in a playoff run since Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in 2010. Kuznetsov had a career year this season and has emerged as a threat to all defenseman with his recent play this season and last season.

John Carlson the glue to this back end and a player who has put his name on the board with some of the best defenseman in the game today. Carlson has tallied 16 points in 19 games along with 10 power play points. Carlson is a player you will not miss especially due to his 6’3 stature. Finally and not last but for now at least, TJ Oshie the player they acquired from St. Louis in 2014-15 and who they recently just signed to a lucrative deal has been a key piece in their top six, holding the second line together and being a great, two-way forward. Oshie has tallied 15 points in 19 games this playoff run. Now, obviously they’re plenty more to name but these players are the guys you will hear most about and probably see the most of!

Other headlines! 

This Stanley Cup is not like most, these two teams have never been, while they have some players on their roster that have experienced the Stanley Cup atmosphere, not many players on either roster know what it is like to play in a Stanley Cup game. The intriguing part about this series is that current General Manager George McPhee of Vegas was the old GM of Washington before he came over to Vegas. Therefore essentially McPhee has built both these teams and win or lose, he still wins right? Marc Andre-Fleury will be going for his fourth Stanley Cup, appearing in his 3rd straight, Nate Schmidt plays against his old team, Washington. James Neal appears in back to back Stanley Cups. The story lines are not hard to find in this series, but for now, I hope this is gave you a better understanding of the teams, enjoy!

Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule 

Well heading into the Stanley Cup, I hope if you are new you have all the information you need! The schedule will look like…

Monday May 28: Capitals @ Vegas 

Wednesday May 30: Capitals @ Vegas

Saturday June 2: Vegas @ Capitals 

Monday June 4: Vegas @ Capitals 

Thursday June 7: Capitals @ Vegas

Sunday June 10: Vegas @ Capitals 

Wednesday June 13: Capitals @ Vegas 

NHL Stanley Cup final

Washington Capitals vs Vegas Golden Knights 2018 Stanley Cup Final preview

It seems as if this match up was not so much a shock for every fan out there as I had a few people say they called this match up, and for those that did. Kudos to them. Anyways the 125th Stanley Cup final will hold two underdog teams coming into the playoffs. The Washington Capitals from the East and Vegas Golden Knights from the West. Underdogs I say because the Capitals were not written off as a playoff team this year and when they went down 2-0 to Columbus everyone thought they were done. The Golden Knights never gained much respect from fans in the league and coming into this playoffs very few people had them getting passed the first round.

The Capitals are 12-7 this playoff run with a 66 goals for 47 goals against, 28.8 percent power play, 75.4 percent penalty kill and 32 shots per game. Compared to their opponent who is 12-3 with a 43 goals for 27 goals against, 17.6 power play percentage, 82.5 penalty kill percentage and 31 shots for per game. The Capitals and Knights faced during the regular season Vegas played the Capitals three times and all three times the Golden Knights won, with that behind the Capitals and playing much better now well see how that affects the series, probably won’t have any affect. The story line going into this series, well there is plenty but one is, long time Capitals general manager George McPhee faces his old time team with his new team the Golden Knights. Marc Andre Fleury and Braden Holtby meet once again, these two just seem like they can’t avoid each other. Diving into the series looking at both teams here is what the Capitals have going for them.

Capitals advantages over Vegas

NHL Washington Capitals(1) Experience and hunger: Now the Capitals have not won the Conference finals and made a Cup appearance in 19 years but they have a laundry list of playoff experience and per say a game 7 comes along I am feeling more confident with Ovechkin over Kalrsson if I am a fan. The Capitals have Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Holtby, Orpik, Carlson, Niskanen, Orlov, Beagle, Connolly, Oshie all players who have experienced what it is like to play on the big stage. Plus the Capitals just look like a different team they are hungry, and seem like they are not going to be denied from anything this year. They have a ton of momentum going for them, winning four straight in round one, beating the Penguins in round two, and now a game 7 win in the Conference finals, if you are the Capitals, confidence is high and hunger is even higher.

(2) Alex Ovechkin. The Golden Knights do not have a player like this, yes they have goal scoring and grit, but Ovechkin is a hall of fame player and a one of kind type of talents. He certainly has been on a different level this playoff season, winning the Rocket coming into the playoffs must have stirred the pot a but. Leading the playoffs in goals(active) and being within the top two for points. Every game we have seen a different side to Ovechkin that not many have seen in recent playoff years, the guy looks like the Russian machine that never stops, throwing his weight around, scoring goals and getting the team going. Ovechkin is a huge difference maker.

(3) Depth production, guys like Andre Burakovsky scoring 2 big goals, Lars Eller, Devante Smith Pelly, Jay Beagle, Chandler Stephenson, Brett Conolloy these guys all have chipped in one way or another this whole playoff run and they have been a huge reason the Capitals have made it this far. I believe the Capitals have a deeper line up and will keep up and possibly out skate the Vegas forwards. The Capitals fourth line is better than Vegas’s and it also does not hurt that the Capitals fourth line and third line can be a huge factor in mixing and matching lines for Barry Trotz.

Advantages for Vegas over Washington

(1) Marc Andre Fleury, now Holtby has been a brick wall posting back to back shutouts and a 2.04 GAA and 12-6 record but Fleury has been one of the biggest reasons Vegas is here right now posting Conn Smythe like numbers with a mind blowing 1.68 GAA and a 12-3 record and .947 SV percentage. Fleury has seemed to be dialed in, and on another level same for Holtby but if you were comparing the two at the moment right now. Fleury really does give Vegas the upper hand.

(2) Inexperience, now this one may seem odd but the Golden Knights have used their inexperience for the better this playoff run. They have shown that if you just go out play your game and not worry about all the other noise in the background, have some fun, you’ll be fine. The Golden Knights have a few experienced players but for the most part they are here right now due to their work ethic and guys just buying in and not worrying about what everyone else is saying. They have essentially lived the we have no expectations on us so let’s set the standard model.

Vegas Golden Knights(3) Scoring, the Golden Knights have been a team all year that has been able to score goals no matter what. They average 2.87 goals per game and they only played 15 games this post season perhaps a few more games and they would be around three. But it seems the Golden Knights play an incredibly quick transition game that leads to goal scoring and a ton of scoring chances. No matter the situation Vegas seems to know how to score and by just getting the puck to the net they found out sometimes works out. A team that does not quit paired with scoring to supplement that can be scary.

How these two match up evenly…

The Golden Knights and Capitals are very similar teams they finished four points apart in the league, won their division and play a similar style of hockey. The Capitals knew coming into Tampa they did not have the skill factor so they used their legs, capitalizing on mistakes and quick style of play to beat the Lightning. Same with Vegas and what they have done all year. The Golden Knights and Capitals both play a very quick style of play, they transition very quickly and rely on their transition game to give them scoring chances or their goals for. Two teams that play a quick, physical style of play will make for an interesting playoff series, as we will see how Gallant adjusts and Trotz adjusts.

Their defenses are extremely similar too, they both have three defenseman lines that play a heavy game, physical and shutdown, they both have one to two offensive defenseman but the rest are your typical gritty, stay at home guys who get the job done. The Capitals have the same issue but an issue that has worked out in their favor, some inexperienced defenseman that have stepped up massively this playoff run. The Golden Knights whole defense unit is inexperienced but the Capitals have Christian Djoos, Michael Kempny who are a little less experienced than the others and have played quite well for the Capitals. These two match up similar on the back end and it will be a series that may not possess a ton of offensive even strength scoring.

Goalies, these two have met in the playoffs and regular season a dozen times. They know each other quite well, but the Capitals may have the upper hand here as they know Fleury a little better then the Golden Knights know Holtby. Fleury went to game 7 vs the Capitals last season, went to game 7 vs the Capitals in 2008-09, plus all the times they played in the regular season. The Capitals have a long history with Fleury one that can pan out to be useful or hurt them, either way going into a match up vs a team you do not know much about besides the goalie is a positive at least.

Gerard Gallant and Barry Trotz now, arguably some of the best coaches in the league right now and the Gallant may have the upper hand though as he will have McPhee in his ear talking about the Capitals, the Capitals old GM McPhee will be a huge help for Vegas here as he may know some things other GM’s would normally know but still these two coaches have been a thing of beauty this playoff series and have really set the example for the players. Making it a fun, competitive and winning environment. Anytime your coach is skating laps in practice that’s a positive or anytime you have players showing their love for their coach(Gallant) that’s a positive. Two great coaches.

Quick look at what Vegas is saying…

The stage is set and for game one Monday May 28 the Golden Knights host the Capitals, the lines are out and will change of course but right now it is -143 Vegas and +123 Washington, that’s a big line for a Stanley Cup game, wow. Maybe buy in now. Despite the line it is saying that Washington has 57 percent bets and Vegas has 43 percent. Across the other 13 sites it is saying around +120 to 135 for Washington and -140 to -155 for Vegas. Get in now if you want, because that line is changing for sure. Over under 5.5 also, may just be smart enough to buy on that because that is for sure hitting.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018

Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup Appearance in first year: Real or Rigged?

I have heard a lot of gossip on social media, this is fixed, this is all a set up by the league, they bought their team, they were handed this team, they didn’t deserve to be here, blah blah!

Well, I have certainly thought like OK this has to be a dream how is this Vegas team in the Cup right now, something is going on. It is natural to think that but honestly, having watched this playoff series pretty closely and almost every game. The Golden Knights 1000% out played the Kings in round one, that is a not a set up, winning in 5 games. They out played the Sharks in round two, that was the closest series they had but the Golden Knights are a team we have noticed now that just does not quit. And the Conference finals, the Jets came out flying and everyone thought that was it to Vegas, but again, they have a master mind head coach, a team that is fully bought into their roles and doing whatever it takes and for game 4 and 5 the Jets looked DEAD. They beat themselves that series and handed the series to Vegas almost. The Golden Knights dominated every aspect of the game in game five it didn’t even look like the Jets wanted to play when it came to even strength play. The Jets had an inexperienced goalie that made some bad mistakes with the puck that cost them some key goals. So, all I am saying is if you are saying this is fixed or something along those lines you are just being ignorant and not appreciating one of the greatest sport stories to happen in the last 1000 years or whatever.

The Golden Knights were not handed this team either there were clear expansion draft rules and the other 30 NHL teams decided to protect who they did and not protect who they did the GM’s of other teams knew how this worked. So when Vegas got Marchessault and Neal on the draft well that was the Panthers and Predators fault, and when Fleruy landed in their hands because the Penguins did not want to protect him and handed Vegas him, Fleruy came in with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. Riley Smith was acquired in a trade, the Panthers also gave Gerard Gallant to Vegas as well, so really if we are to blame anyone for Vegas’s success blame the Panthers.

The Golden Knights have Deryk Engelland who was drafted in the sixth round, played on three NHL teams and was a nobody before this season, along with Nate Schmidt being a 6th defenseman on Washington, Lucas Sbisa being a role player, somebody in and out of the lineup his whole career, William Karlsson, we all know his story, Marchessault who was drafted and moved around several times before landing a full time spot on a roster, James Neal in the middle of his career going over here because his contract was to lucrative for Nashville, Alex Tuch a first year guy, the list goes on and on. The moral of the story is the Golden Knights were not here because of fix, gambling stint in Vegas right now, they are here because they earned it, they out worked the three teams before them and they have a coach who makes the game fun for the team, makes the players want to show up everyday and trusts his player and gives them unbeatable confidence, a goalie that is performing on another level right now while giving wet willies in the middle of games, and an offense and defense that is buying in whole hardheartedly to the systems and the instructions by the coaches and leaders to do whatever it takes to win.

The Golden Knights being here is not by accident. No one saw this coming and if you are someone who believes this is rigged, get lost, take a hike and go back to the hole you came from. Muppet.


NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018

Washington shuts the door on Tampa to force a game 7

Yesterday I wrote an article Washington Capitals in do or die game six: Lightning eye 2nd Stanley Cup appearance in four years it talked about some keys for the Capitals to ensure a game 7 victory. Now I don’t want to go and tout my own horn here but yeah I called three of these keys, and the Capitals executed every one and they won. Therefore I am essentially Bob McKenzie and everyone can call me a genius.

In actuality, the Capitals scored first and when they scored first look what happened. They limited Tampa to two power play chances and Tampa went 0/2, and last but not least Braden Holtby although only stopping 24 shots, made some key saves late in the game, especially when Tampa was pressuring in the middle of that third period in game six. Three keys I called and a Capitals win. I’m onto something, maybe I’m not all that bad at this.

Game 7 history… 

Now, the Capitals head off to Tampa for a game seven, the Capitals have played zero game sevens this playoff series and neither have the Lightning. The Capitals history heading into game seven dates back to 1985 vs the Islanders, the most recent one that has bad memories for Capitals fans is Penguins last season in the second round. The most fond memory the Capitals have in game seven was back in the 2008-09 season when they won a game seven vs the Rangers in round one and the Islanders in seven in 2014-2015. Besides that the Capitals have lost 10 series in seven games.

The Lightning have been around as a franchise since 1992-93 and since coming into the league the Lightning have been to six game sevens before and the most recent memory is losing to the Penguins in seven during the Conference finals two years ago, other than that the Lightning have come out on top from game 7’s vs the Flames in the Stanley Cup in 2003-04, the Penguins in 2010-11 in the first round and the Red Wings and Rangers in 2014-15 the year they lost to Chicago in the Cup.

Game 7’s have treated these two teams well, clearly the Capitals have a bit more experience they have been a franchise a bit longer but both teams know what it is like to play in a game seven and the Capitals certainly know what it feels like to lose a game seven in a heart wrenching way. Capitals fans I hate to do it but Derek Stepan game 7, 2015 second round, in overtime. The Capitals definitely didn’t forget that feeling and nor did Braden Holtby. Let’s just say that loss will play a huge factor into Friday nights game seven.

WARNING: Viewer discretion is advised! 

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018

Washington Capitals in do or die game six: Lightning eye 2nd Stanley Cup appearance in four years

The Capitals have now lost three games in a row, and head back to Washington to hopefully even out this series. If you are a Capitals there is obviously some concern being raised here as they have lost three straight and face elimination tonight but also the Capitals have looked like the better team in a majority of the games they lost thus far.

For the Capitals tonight executing these three keys is vital to a game six win…

(1) KEEP TAMPA OFF THE POWER PLAY! Hey Capitals the Lighting are good on the power play if you have not realized yet therefore you should probably not keep giving them chances on the man advantage. Stamkos in his office is probably going to score 10/10 times, Kucherov moving around put there with time and space is going to come back and bite you. If the Capitals can find a way to limit the Lighting’s power play chances they will be fine.

(2) Score first! Each of the last three games the Capitals have not scored and they have lost now three games in a row. When a team scores first this playoff year it has seemed to be almost a prerequisite for a win to come. The Capitals first two games they scored first and they won. Take a page out of the Golden Knights book they scored first in their last four wins over Winnipeg and they won the series. Scoring first is huge and especially for the Capitals at home here that would be a major momentum shiftier.

(3) Braden Holtby is going to be playing at some Marc Andre Fleury type level tonight. A good goalie will win you games this playoffs. Look at Vegas, look at Tampa Bay in game game four and five. Holtby is going to need to come up with not just his usual saves but he will need to be dialed in and making saves many of us have never seen before. Which is possible for Holtby, if the Capitals give him the support and eliminate turnovers in the gray areas of the ice Holtby will for sure make a save 99 percent of the time he sees the play happening or the puck. Don’t pull a Pekka Rinne here Holtby.

A look at what Vegas is saying…

The open line to start the day was Tampa Bay +110 and Washington -130 as the day went on and it is now 12:02 p.m. the line has not changed much but it did as Tampa is +105 and Washington is -125. This means that there really is no clear favorite the line is pretty close Washington is the favorite but by a small margin. Which is expected to see a line like this after Tampa won three straight and Washington is home so I think we all thought the line would be very even and no clear favorite would be seen. But the picks 44 percent Tampa and 56 percent Washington as of now. Thirteen other sites have lines similar as well having Tampa around +105 to the highest of +115 and Washington at -120 to the highest of -130. This is going to be a tough one, I would not lock anything in just yet. The line is going to change even more as the day goes on, so stay put.