The Cup finals are tied up at 1 game a piece. The first two games were hard fought, back and forth games. Vegas held ground in game 1 and the Caps got out of game 2 by the hair on their necks (and the stick paddle of Braden Holtby)
So lets take a closer look at the Eastern Conference Champions, the Washington Capitals.
It’s been 20 years since the the Caps have been in the Cup finals. In 1998 the Capitals, who inexplicably changed their uniforms from Red, White and Blue to Blue, Gold and Black, where swept by the Detroit Redwings in one of the most lopsided finals in sometime. In fact the Caps only scored 7 total goals in the series, 4 of them coming in game 2.
But that was then and this is now. Washington is back to the Red, White and Blue and have arguably the greatest goal scorer of this generation, Alex Ovechkin. Its ironic that a boy from Moscow is the face of Washington D.C sports (yes, with Bryce Harper). Ovechkin is in his 13th season in the NHL, all in Washington. In that time he has played 1,003 games and scored 607 goals and 1122 points. He has won a World Jr Championship, 3 World Championships, 7 Maurice Richard Awards (Most Goals), 3 Hart Trophies (MVP), 1 Art Ross Award (Leagues Leading scorer) and the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the year). However, he has never won the Stanley Cup nor been this deep into the playoffs.
The Capitals are not a 1 trick pony either. Every Batman needs a Robin. Ovechkin’s Robin is a Nicklas Backstrom from Sweden. Backstrom is a smooth, playmaking center, who is considered one of the past passers in NHL. To roundup the offense you have Yevgeni Kuznetsov, another Russian stud. Also TJ Oshie, remembered by most non hockey people as the player who scored 5 shootout goals against Russia at the Sochi games. You don’t remember you say? Well here you go.
The Capitals are more than just offense. They have a solid D core led by Mass native John Carlson and former Boston College stud Brooks Orpik. Also, the aforementioned Braden Holtby is one of the best goalies in the league when on his game…just ask the Bruins who can’t buy a goal off him.
The Vegas Golden Knights are a great story. The group of unprotected expansion draft players come together to give life to a brand new team. Las Vegas the city and the team are exciting and fun to be around. Their story is a true Cinderella one and a Stanley Cup Championship would just be a Hollywood type ending.
However, the Caps are too deep. They have proven offense, All Star defense and one of the best goalies on the planet. They have been too good for too long and this really feels like their time. Plus Ovechkin is too great of a player not to win the Stanley Cup, its just time. I say Caps in 6.