Metropolitan Division Winner vs. Pacific Division Winner
Washington Capitals vs. Vegas Golden Knights
It hasn’t been an easy road for the Capitals to get back to the Stanley Cup Final. This is only their second appearance in the title series. Their last was in 1998 when they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. Being down 2-0 in the first round of the 2018 playoffs to Columbus, they rallied to win the next four to move on. After dropping the first game to Pittsburgh in the second round, they held their own and fought off any chance of a comeback by beating the two-time defending champion Penguins on their home ice. Washington had a distinct 2-0 advantage against Tampa Bay in the conference finals, lost the next three, but won the last two by a combined score of 7-0. Alex Ovechkin is cementing himself as the best player of his generation. 22 points and 12 goals in this playoff run so far. Evgeny Kuznetsov with 24 points and 11 goals has been on par with Ovechkin’s play the entire way. Braden Holtby has played his best hockey in net these entire playoffs. He’ll have to continue against a relentless Vegas attack.
Making it to the Stanley Cup Final in your inaugural season would be considered a success. For Vegas, they’ve been determined to not just attend, but be the ones to hoist the Cup. Normally you would classify their story as a ‘Cinderella’ one, but from the drop of the first puck this season they have been dominant. They took control of their division and never relented. They swept the rival Los Angeles Kings in the first round and dispatched the San Jose Sharks in six games. The upstart Winnipeg Jets did give them a bit of a scare in Game 1, but won the next four games. The first player they drafted in the expansion draft in Marc-Andre Fleury has been playing like it’s the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he won his first as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. If Fleury manages to shutdown the Capitals offense, that will give Vegas the chances they’ll need to counter and that’s where their success truly lies. Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith have been a perfect trio for the expansion Golden Knights.
Players to Watch: F Alex Ovechkin and G Marc-Andre Fleury
Who Wins: Golden Knights in 7 games