Vegas Golden Knights
The Las Vegas Golden Knights find themselves on the brink of elimination down 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final to the Washington Capitals.
In The Beginning
From the beginning, everyone said that hockey in the desert of Las Vegas was going to fail. The lack of an established hockey market. A city with no prior professional sports experience. It would never work, they said. Insert the Vegas Golden Knights here. Led by former Stanley Cup Champion goaltender Marc-Andre Fluery, this expansion team in their first season was destined to only win 20 games. To the surprise of everyone, Vegas finished with 51 wins the most an expansion team has ever recorded. They led the tough Pacific Division with 109 points which was good enough for the third most in the Western Conference.
The doubting didn’t end after the Knights had already proven themselves over the course of an 81 game marathon season, but still there were naysayers. When the playoff match-ups were released and the Knights were slated to play against the former Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings led by star defenseman Drew Doughty.
— scf-norwood (@a23wood) April 18, 2018
Stanley Cup Dreams
Four white-knuckle, intense games later the Golden Knights swept the Kings and solidifying that the regular season was no fluke.
Next up for Vegas was San Jose, fresh off of a sweep of the Anaheim Ducks. San Jose had made the big late season trade with Buffalo to get star winger Evander Kane. Kane known for his flashy and brash style of play was supposed to be the final component to push the Sharks over the top. The Knights frustrated him into a one game suspension and general inconsistent play.
The Las Vegas Golden Knights won in 6 games.
No home ice presented a unique challenge for the Western Conference Final. Winnipeg had finished ahead of the Knights and 2nd in the NHL with 114 points. Vegas played as bad a first period as they could in Game 1, then dominated as they won the final 4 games of the series to secure the Stanley Cup Final.
A gritty, back and forth Game 1 saw the Knights shoot down the Capitals 6-4. Since then, Vegas has struggled. A spectacular save by Braden Holtby in Game 2 preserved a 3-2 win for Washington. Games 3 and 4 saw the Caps protect home ice with convincing wins 3-1 and 6-2.
This is what sports are made of. Hopefully, the Knights have the same luck as the 2004 Red Sox coming back from down 3-0 in the ALCS to beat the Yankees and wind up World Series Champions for the first time in 86 years. Or how about the Cleveland Cavaliers who rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the 73-win Golden State Warriors.
Down 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, the doubting is louder than ever. We only have one option left, believe.