The Las Vegas Golden Knights have enjoyed quite the Cinderella season. They clinched their division, the Western Conference title and the second-best regular season record all in their inaugural season. Now, the new expansive team is projected to win the 2018 Stanley Cup in most USA sportsbooks.
Sportsbooks host multiple betting lines for hockey and the Stanley Cup. It appears the most popular wager is that the Golden Knights will win in seven games. This means oddsmakers think this series will be a close one that grinds out until the very end. NHL analysts follow this line of thinking. After seeing how both Vegas and the Washington Capitals have played this postseason, it is no surprise people have fallen into this logic.
Vegas—keep in mind they are a brand new team—swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. They defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games in the second round. The Western Conference Finals saw them discard the Winnipeg Jets in five games. These are all dominant performances fueled by several key individuals.
If you look at Washington’s postseason run, you’ll notice things were a little closer. They beat Columbus in six games in the first round. The Caps met the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, a team that has knocked them out of the Playoffs multiple times in recent seasons, and finally defeated them after six games. The Eastern Conference Finals were a tough matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning where the Caps took the first two games away, lost the next two at home, traded a win and loss and then finally crushed the Lightning’s title hopes via a 4-0 victory on Tampa’s ice.
For the Knights, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has literally been their saving grace. He had multiple incredible saves in the Winnipeg series that helped Vegas edge out their competition. In fact, the once-Pittsburgh Penguin has had the best season of his career with the Golden Knights. Vegas has a few other outcasts that have seen remarkable improvement this year including Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch, Erik Haula, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Deryk Engelland and Brayden McNabb. The Knights have a massive chip on their shoulder and something to prove to the rest of the league. It may be their first year together as a team, but these players have rallied to form something special out in the desert.
Washington’s standouts include their franchise player Alex Ovechkin. The NHL’s all-time leading scorer added to his tally throughout the Playoffs—he even had a goal in the crucial Game 7 win over the Lightning. Evgeny Kuznetsov emerged as a postseason monster this year and leads the team in total points. Washington’s core defensive unit of John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, and Dmitry Orlov have played a lot of minutes this year, which may come back to haunt them, but they have held up through multiple rounds. Washington has a strong goalie of their own in Braden Holtby that saves percentage is up there with Fleury’s.
On paper, this series is going to be exciting. If you’ve been following both teams in the postseason, you know this series will be exciting. Oddsmakers have it close for a reason. Expect both of these professional hockey teams to leave everything out on the ice. Nevada wants to win a Stanley Cup in their first season, something that hasn’t been done in a long time. Washington wants to win the franchise’s first title, which would be especially significant with Ovechkin still on the roster. Tune in to see how the series plays out.