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AP Photo/Alex Brandon

2018 Stanley Cup Final Schedule, Preview, And Prediction


One of the most exciting postseasons in sports is down to two teams, as the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights will face off in the Stanley Cup Final. Before we get deeper, here’s the schedule for the 2017-2018 NHL season’s final series to crown a champion (all games 8:00 PM ET, Games 5-7 if necessary):

 

Game 1: Capitals @ Golden Knights | Monday, May 28 | NBC

Game 2: Capitals @ Golden Knights | Wednesday, May 30 | NBCS

Game 3: Golden Knights @ Capitals | Saturday, June 2 | NBCS

Game 4: Golden Knights @ Capitals | Monday, June 4 | NBC

Game 5: Capitals @ Golden Knights | Thursday, June 7 | NBC

Game 6: Golden Knights @ Capitals | Sunday, June 10 | NBC

Game 7: Capitals @ Golden Knights | Wednesday, June 13 | NBC

 

No matter who wins between Washington and Las Vegas, it’s going to be an outstanding story for the franchise that hoists the Cup. For the Capitals, they have one of the game’s all-time great players in Alexander Ovechkin and are on the cusp of a title despite going through postseason struggles through the years.

 

For the Golden Knights, they were not even a team this time last year, going from an expansion draft to the Stanley Cup Final. Whoever wins this series, a lot of average sports fans are going to feel happy for the winner—not just because of their stories, but because they are fun, exciting teams to watch on the ice.

 

Coming into the season, the Golden Knights were given 500-1 odds to win the Cup, but they’ve have by far the best inaugural season by a professional sports team in history. Despite low expectations, Golden Knights GM George McPhee and the franchise took advantage of the expansion draft by making great selections to build a roster of men that would emerge from the Western Conference.

 

Three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury is such a great veteran presence between the pipes, and he’s been a stalwart for this Final run. Meanwhile, forwards William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault have been huge in leading the offensive attack and the rest of the squad. Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant has obviously done a spectacular job with this team that has only played together for a regular season and three playoff series.

 

On the other side, the Capitals are led by winger Alexander Ovechkin and goaltender Braden Holtby. His team has struggled historically in the postseason, but Holtby—who was not in goal to start the playoffs for Washington—is one of the best best goalies in NHL playoff history. Two straight shutouts against a high-powered Lightning offense in the Eastern Conference Final with his team down 3-2 in the series was clutch.

 

As for Ovechkin, it’s unfair to put the lack of playoff success for the Caps on him, but he’s been awesome during this season’s run to the Final. He has 22 points (12 goals and ten assists) in 19 games this postseason, and he should keep it up against Las Vegas. Ovie has had success against Marc-Andre Fleury during Fleury’s time in Pittsburgh, but of course it hasn’t led to wins. It’s fitting that despite moving to the West, Fleury again stands in the way of the Capitals trying to get a championship.

 

And with Evgeny Kuznsov, John Carlson, T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, James Neal, Nate Schmidt, Reilly Smith, David Perron, and Shea Theodore among the other players in the series, there is a lot of strength and depth on both sides—though the Capitals probably have the advantage in the depth department, especially with how key they’ve been this postseason run.

 

This series is a big toss up, and it should go at least six games either way. (Eight of the last nine Stanley Cup Finals have gone at least six games.) On paper, the Capitals might have the advantage, but the Golden Knights have defied expectations all season, and they’ve probably played better en route to their appearance in the championship series. It feels like the Golden Knights are a team of destiny.

 

Prediction: Golden Knights in seven

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