Vancouver Canucks: Who to cheer for in Stanley Cup Final

NHL Stanley Cup Final 2018 picks: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals preview | Predictions, odds

NHL Stanley Cup Final 2018 picks: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals preview | Predictions, odds

But the danger of viewing Vegas's run to this meeting with the Washington Capitals as a sprint instead of a marathon is that you miss the years of work that went into getting the Golden Knights on the ice at all.

The Golden Knights, who will make their championship debut on Monday in their first season in existence, entered the NHL's 2017-18 campaign with 500-1 odds of winning the Stanley Cup.

"We're both kind of the hero of (our own) stories", T.J. Oshie said. "Like the last game (against the Winnipeg Jets), I went and cleaned the garage".

But while the players in Washington's dressing room aware of Vegas' unprecedented run, they aren't interested in adopting a "villain" persona. Kicked around the past five years for trading Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat and not being able to bring the Cup to Washington, McPhee has his fingerprints all over this final after building the foundation of each team. "That's the game that's in front of us, and see where it goes".

"Ovi's been on a mission", Caps coach Barry Trotz said.

Before the two teams drop the puck in Game 1 on Monday, May 28, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, here's a preview for the series, plus odds and a prediction for the victor of the Stanley Cup.

Washington Capitals, 4-0.

As word spread that a Golden Knights player was in the stands, kids of all ages surrounded Tuch, who graciously obliged one picture request after another.

The Caps are 8-2 on the road in the 2018 playoffs, outscoring their opponents, 36-20, in those 10 games.

Washington, which is also led by Evgeny Kuznetsov, reached the Finals one other time in its history, losing to Detroit in four straight in 1998. Knuble, who played 17 seasons in the National Hockey League, scored 29 goals with 53 points with the Capitals in 2009-10.

Both clubs boast goalies that have thrived in the playoffs.

The English Premier League saw an even larger preseason underdog win its championship in 2016.

Knights: Vegas (51-24-7 during the regular season) heads into the final round with a 12-3 playoff record. In the latter game, Reilly Smith had a pair of goals to key the win.

A year ago, the 26-year-old Schmidt was a third-pairing defenceman who temporarily lost his job when the Capitals acquired Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline.

"I think you're always as good as your team", he said, modestly.

"I have a very fond respect for George", Wilson said.

A three-time Cup victor, Fleury is 12-3 with a 0.947 save percentage this postseason. Holtby will take a shutout streak of almost 160 minutes into Monday.

But no one could have expected a hockey team would also help a city deal with its grief after a gunman killed 58 people on the Las Vegas strip just days before the team's home opener. Watching Alex Ovechkin, whom he drafted first overall in 2004, and Nicklas Backstrom, drafted fourth overall two years later, and the rest of his former pride and joy finally get over the playoff hump together after so much failure brought satisfaction, if not a certain degree of validation.

McPhee made great picks in the expansion draft by selecting Jonathan Marchessault (75 points this season) from Florida, William Karlsson (43 goals, 78 points, plus-49) from Columbus, defenseman Nate Schmidt (36 points, plus-19) from Washington, and Fleury (2.24 GAA, .927 save percentage) from Pittsburgh. "Obviously, I picked up a lot from him, spending so much time with him, someone I look up to, the way he plays on the ice and the way he is off the ice, too". Each of those three players had career highs in points. When 58 country music concert-goers were gunned down October 1 in the worst shooting in American history about a mile from the rink, the Golden Knights were suddenly thrust in the middle of the healing process by the way they stepped forward to visit survivors and first responders.

So does that mean the Canucks should cheer for the Golden Knights over the Capitals? Thought it would be a little different, but once you got in the rink, it's Vegas.

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