NEW YORK, NY – We’re balls deep in the Stanley Cup Final and things are even-steven between the Washington Capitals and Las Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights took the opener 6-4 in a high-flying affair. In Game 2, Braden Holtby shut down Vegas in the third period to give the Caps a 3-2 win. Holtby made the save of the season with about two minutes left in the third period. Alex Tuch was clear on a virtually empty net and Holtby dove across with the stick to keep the puck out and seal the Capitals’ victory. The capacity crowd on the strip all thought the puck was in and the game was tied. Even Alex Ovechkin couldn’t believe the puck wasn’t in the back of the net. The Capitals held on and evened the series at one game apiece.
Ovechkin has played with a desire that we haven’t really seen from the Great 8 in the past. Over the last decade we’ve seen Ovi score 50 in the regular season only to go soft in the playoffs as the Capitals flamed out. This year has been different. Ovi led from the front in the Caps’ triumph over the Lighting in the Eastern Conference Final. They came back to win games 6 and 7 against a stacked Lightning team. and now they’ve negated the home ice advantage with the split in Vegas to open the series. Ovi’s had a point in each of the first two games including a power play goal in game 2.
They’re headed back to Washington for Game 3 tomorrow night. Holtby and the Capitals will look to take advantage of home ice and put Vegas in their first hole since they lost the opener against the Jets in the Western Conference Finals and only their second deficit of the playoffs.
The Golden Knights are a team with no real superstar skaters. They roll four solid lines and use their pace to expose opposing defenses. They led the Pacific Conference wire to wire. and breezed through the playoffs to this point. Things should be a little tougher for them against a hungry Capitals team for the rest of this series. We’ll see how the Knights respond to adversity since they haven’t seen any yet. As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Marc-Andre Fleury has been stellar in net all season for Vegas after being put up for adoption by the Penguins. Now he’s three wins away from winning cup #4. That would be one more than some guy named Sidney Crosby. But there’s a long way to go in this series.
I’m picking the Capitals to win in 7 games. I’m usually wrong about these things so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Golden Knights rattle off three straight. But I’m sticking with my gut. Caps in 7. Ovechkin is a man posessed and I think he and Holtby will take the Capitals to the promised land.
That’s all I got for today. Tune into game 3 tomorrow night. It’ll be a lot more interesting than the NBA Finals. If you were planning on betting on the Warriors to win the series, you’d have to put up north of $1000 to win $100. Rough odds. I’ll stick to hockey.
Speaking of picks…