The Washington Capitals advanced to the Stanley Cup for just the second time ever after a grueling seven-game battle with the Lightning and will face off against the most epic Cinderella team of all time when they meet the Vegas Golden Knights. Let’s discuss why the Caps will end this Sin City fairytale and take home their first Stanley Cup.
DC Stands United: Conference Championship Not Enough
Twenty years have passed since the Washington Capitals captured the only conference championship in their five decades of existence but even that success was ultimately met with an ignominious end when they were swept by the Red Wings to conclude the 1997-1998 season. Washington has been known for thriving in the regular season and diving in the postseason as evidenced by their Presidents’ Trophy-winning campaigns in 2009-2010, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.
But this season the Caps checked in with a more than respectable 105 points and added another divisional title to their pedigree, yet there were six other teams with equal or greater regular-season point totals. No doubt the DC fans were far from fazed after watching their Capitals routinely fade in the playoffs after blazing a path through the first 82 games.
But here they are after getting rattled in the first round by dropping their first two games at home to the lightly regarded Blue Jackets but then storming back by winning the next four to advance to the second round against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was the round where they would typically melt and everyone but the most ardent Capitals’ fan expected as much. But a funny thing happened on the way to the exit. Despite dropping their first game 3-2 to the Pens, Washington proved to be too tough and won the series 4-2, thereby granting them a date with the top team in the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps drew first blood with consecutive wins but then dropped three straight before shutting Tampa Bay down in the final two series games by a combined score of 7-0.
After vanquishing all of their postseason foes thus far, their final test will be the most daunting. They have now, by default, become the villains due to the fact their expansion opponents are the most astonishing Cinderella story since No. 16 UMBC stunned No. 1 Virginia in the opening round of this year’s NCAA Tournament. Even that historic one-game monumental upset pales in comparison to a season of unprecedented success by an expansion franchise in any major professional or collegiate sport. Everyone outside the DC belt is rooting for the Vegas Golden Knights because America loves an underdog.
However, the Caps will put a frown on all those faces because Vegas has been lying in wait since Sunday, and by the time the puck drops the Knights will have had eight days of adrenaline killing rest and relaxation. In addition, the Golden Knights own a roster of overachievers, which is normally a good thing but history tells us that the chances of, mostly fringe players, operating like a collective All-Star team has an expiration date. The question is: Does that date occur now or will it manifest into a disappointing 2018-2019 season?
The Capitals understand what’s at stake and future Hall of Famer Alex Ovechkin may never get another bite at this elusive apple. Washington was at peak form in their last two contests, garnering shutouts in both games against a talented and offensively potent Lightning squad. The Caps have averaged 3.47 goals per game in the playoffs vs. 2.87 for the Knights. Both teams are equipped with superb goaltending but the overall advantage goes to the Caps. Washington DC, the epicenter of political discord, will finally stand united and get its long overdue reward.
Against All Odds
Had you been visiting Las Vegas last spring or summer, you could very well have been swept up in the excitement of the city’s inaugural NHL season. Perhaps you even strolled into a sportsbook to buy a novelty ticket on the Golden Knights to – ahem – win the Stanley Cup. How cute, how precious, and so much better than any chintzy novelty item you could buy for your best friend or closest relative. That $5 or $10 ticket was going to be a lot less expensive too and at odds of 500-1 or more, you would be giving more than just a present but a chance to dream. Seriously, is there anyone more caring and thoughtful than you?
Fast forward to today and you’re blowing up your friend’s phone to inform him or her that the ticket you gave was just for safe keeping. How could they not know that?! “Whaddya think, I’m an idiot?!” you declare. That longshot could come in and anytime you’re wondering what the odds are on any event, all you have to do is surf on over to Sportsbook Review, a site dedicated to reviewing and cataloging all the best online sportsbooks on the planet, replete with up-to-the-minute odds.
For instance, the line being hung on this Washington/Vegas series reveals that the Golden Knights are -135 favorites while the Caps are +115 underdogs. If you do have a futures ticket on Vegas, I suggest you hedge and grab the Caps for at least a little to guarantee you’ll be cashing no matter which team wins. If you don’t have a Knights future ticket then do the same and bet the Caps as a live dog in this one because Washington will capture the Cup in five.