It is perhaps the most surprising Stanley Cup Final matchup in league history.
Just when you thought the championship window was closed, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals finally exorcised their playoff demons to win the Eastern Conference and advance to the final. They will be playing the Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team in its very first year in existence that did not even have a roster just one year ago.
Who could have seen this one coming back in September?
The Golden Knights continue to shock the hockey community with every series win. They swept the Los Angeles Kings, dispatched San Jose in six and needed only five games to eliminate the Winnipeg Jets, a team with the second-best record in the regular season who had just eliminated the first place Nashville Predators.
In their very first postseason, Vegas has carried the momentum of a spectacular regular season into a 12-3 record up to the Stanley Cup Final.
But while they may have momentum, the Caps have an air of destiny about them. Not only did they rally from a 2-0 series deficit to win four straight against the Columbus Blue Jackets, they also defeated their archnemesis and the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Against a heavily favored Tampa Bay Lightning squad, the Caps won three out of four road games including an emphatic 4-0 Game 7 win, thus erasing another playoff stigma for the franchise.
These two teams share some common history despite Vegas being in its inaugural season. Though general manager Brian MacLellan has certainly put his own touches on the Caps' roster and molded them into a champion, the core of Washington was still built by George McPhee. Now the Caps will take on a roster completely built from the ground up by McPhee as the general manager of the Golden Knights.
Will Vegas complete its Cinderella season or will the Caps hoist their first ever Cup at the expense of their former GM?
Stanley Cup Final: Washington Capitals vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Game 1: Capitals at Golden Knights. Monday, 5/28 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 2: Capitals at Golden Knights. Wednesday, 5/30 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBCSN)
Game 3: Golden Knights at Capitals. Saturday, 6/2 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBCSN)
Game 4: Golden Knights at Capitals. Monday, 6/4 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 5 (if necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights. Thursday, 6/7 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 6 (if necessary): Golden Knights at Capitals. Sunday, 6/10 (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 7 (If Necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights. Wednesday, 6/13 (Broadcast on NBC)
View full detailed schedule here.
2017-18 Team stats
- 49-26-7, 105 points, first in the Metropolitan Division
- 3.12 goals per game (9th)
- 2.90 goals against per game (16th)
- 22.5-percent power play percentage (7th)
- 80.3 penalty kill percentage (15th)
Vegas Golden Knights
- 51-24-7, 109 points, first in the Pacific Division
- 3.27 goals per game (5th)
- 2.74 goals against per game (8th)
- 21.4 power play percentage (9th)
- 81.4 penalty kill percentage (11th)
- Alex Ovechkin – 49
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 27
- Nicklas Backstrom – 21
- Alex Ovechkin - 12
- Evgeny Kuznetsov - 11
- T.J. Oshie - 7
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 56
- John Carlson – 53
- Nicklas Backstrom – 50
- John Carlson - 13
- Evgeny Kuznetsov -13
- Nicklas Backstrom - 12
- Alex Ovechkin – 87
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 83
- Nicklas Backstrom – 71
- Evgeny Kuznetsov - 24
- Alex Ovechkin - 22
- John Carlson - 16
- Nicklas Backstrom - 16
- William Karlsson - 43
- Erik Haula - 29
- Jonathan Marchessault - 27
- Jonathan Marchessault - 8
- Alex Tuch - 6
- William Karlsson - 6
- David Perron - 50
- Jonathan Marchessault - 48
- Reilly Smith - 38
- Reilly Smith - 14
- Jonathan Marchessault - 10
- David Perron - 7
- William Karlsson - 7
- William Karlsson - 78
- Jonathan Marchessault - 75
- David Perron - 66
- Jonathan Marchessault - 18
- Reilly Smith - 16
- William Karlsson - 13
Braden Holtby: 54 GP, 34-16-4 record, .907 save percentage, 2.99 GAA, 0 shutouts
Philipp Grubauer: 35 GP, 15-10-3 record, .923 save percentage, 2.35 GAA, 3 shutouts
Braden Holtby: 18 GP, 12-6 record, .923 save percentage, 2.04 GAA, 2 shutouts
Philipp Grubauer: 2 GP, 0-1 record, .837 save percentage, 4.55 GAA, 0 shutouts
March-Andre Fleury: 46 GP, 29-13-4 record, .927 save percentage, 2.24 GAA, 4 shutouts
Malcolm Subban: 22 GP, 13-4-2 record, .910 save percentage, 2.68 GAA, 0 shutouts
Maxime Legace: 16 GP, 6-7-1 record, .867 save percentage, 3.92 GAA, 0 shutouts
Oscar Dansk: 4 GP, 3-0-0 record, .946 save percentage, 1.78 GAA, 1 shutout
Dylan Ferguson: 1 GP, 0-0-0 record, .500 save percentage, 6.50 GAA, 0 shutouts
Marc-Andre Fleury: 15 GP, 12-3 record, .947 save percentage, 1.68 GAA, 4 shutouts
Capitals finished with a 0-2-0 record against Vegas
Dec. 23: 3-0 Vegas win
The Caps' first trip to Vegas was a rough one. Washington was taken complete surprise by the speed and forecheck of the Golden Knights who built a 3-0 lead in the first period and ride that all the way to the finish line.
Feb. 4: 4-3 Vegas win
This game was part of a season-defining stretch for the Caps. Just 10 days prior, Washington was blown out by the Nashville Predators and again by the Colorado Avalanche two days after that. The Caps would rebound by winning eight of their next 10 games. A back-to-back against the Lightning, who had the best record in the NHL at the time, and the Toronto Maple Leafs looked like a daunting stretch. Philipp Grubauer got the start and was brilliant for Washington and Jay Beagle led the offense with a goal and an assist.
Coming on Friday!
Players to watch
Coming on Saturday!
Keys to the series
Coming on Sunday!
Joe Beninati, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals play-by-play announcer: Capitals in 6
Ryan Billie, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals senior TV producer: Capitals in 7
Tarik El-Bashir, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals Insider: Capitals in 7
Rob Carlin, NBC Sports Washington on-air host of Capitals GameTime and Capitals Extra: Capitals in 6
Courtney Laughlin, Caps FaceOff and Caps Overtime panelist: Capitals in 6
Craig Laughlin, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals color commentator: Capitals in 6
Alan May, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals analyst: Capitals in 6
Grant Paulsen, host of Caps FaceOff and Caps Overtime: Golden Knights in 6
JJ Regan, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals Digital Producer: Capitals in 6
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