The Vegas Golden Knights pulled off a one in a million opening season in the NHL this afternoon after beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 to take the Western Conference title in their opening season and advancing to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Golden Knights will now face either Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup trophy, the most revered trophy in all of sports. The Lightning are leading the Eastern Conference final 3-2, and with elimination one game away for the Capitals, it seems Tampa may just come out on top, and head to the final showdown for the second time in four years.
The Vegas Golden Knights lost game 1 of the series, but from thereon, it was all Vegas as the Golden Knights went on to win Game 2 to tie the series. They then won the next three games, one of which, the game today, was at the Jets home ice, a rather fitting end for the series and the Golden Knights.
The Winnipeg Jets were Canada’s last hope of having a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup, a fete not accomplished in 26 years. While there are over 20 Canadian players on the Golden Knights roaster, having a home team win would have been the icing on the cake so deserved by Canada.
For their efforts, the Golden Knights were able to hoist the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, the trophy awarded to the Western Conference final winner, above their heads with pride. It was only a year ago that the Vegas Knights didn’t even have a roster, only executives meeting to discuss player options – today, they are champions.
The Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets were pretty much even going into the final, with neither team being chosen as the one favoured to win. However, few could have predicted the fall from grace that the Jets went through after a Game 1 high.
After going seven games against Nashville, and only having one day rest before starting the finals, the Jets seemed to have lost energy and passion. The Knights, on the other hand, had five days of rest, and while they seemed a bit rusty in game 1, that rust was shaken off for game 2, and as they say, the rest is history.
Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele scored eleven goals on the road during the playoffs, and 14 total for the post-season, five away from setting an NHL post-season record. While the Jets played as good as one could expect or ask, they simply ran into better at the hands of the Golden Knights and their goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury was nothing short of brilliant and outperformed Connor Hellebuyk. Fleury, who is 33 and a three-time champion of the Stanley Cup joined the Golden Knights after spending his career with the Penguins. The move may just give Fleury his fourth.
The Vegas Golden Knights are now only four wins away from making history, and for many, they are rooting for this fairytale story to end in their favour.