They say “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”…
Let’s hope for the Golden Knight’s sake that this phrase is changed to “what happens in D.C. stays in D.C.” as Gerard Gallant’s club had a poor showing in the last two games, which took place in the nation’s capital.
This series will travel back to the Sin City for game 5 of this one-sided Stanley Cup Final. In the last 3 games, it’s been all Washington in 2 offensive beatdowns for the Caps. Game 3 was fairly close, but game 4 ended in complete domination for the Capitals in a 6-2 blowout. One team will fight for their life to try and squeeze one more game out of this series and another will try and clinch their first Stanley Cup win in franchise history.
Washington Capitals Outlook
From the conception of game 4, many people knew that Washington would absolutely dominate all 3 periods. The home team did not disappoint as they got off to a 4-0 lead going into the 3rd period. This 4 goal lead soon diminished into just a 2 goal lead, but ultimately went back to 4 as the Caps destroyed the Golden Knights once again.
The formula for Washington’s success has been simple: passing the puck and setting up great shots. Washington’s best passer this series has been Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov had an incredible 4 assists on Monday, 2 of which came in the 1st period. If the Caps are to win, Kuznetsov is my pick for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Another reason the Cap’s are sittin’ pretty at 3-1 right now is their superiority while on the power play. The Capitals PP unit scored in 3 out of the 5 opportunities they had on Monday night. Vegas had many “boneheaded” penalties, and they couldn’t reconcile them by executing on the penalty kill.
This Capital’s team is doing amazing things against Vegas. This is something I doubted they could do as they struggled vs. this team all season long. This “Capitals fever” seems rubbing off on other D.C. teams as well. Washington Nationals pitcher, Max Scherzer, pitched an immaculate inning on Tuesday, the day after attending game 4 of the Cup Final (https://www.mlb.com/cut4/nats-harper-scherzer-and-zimmerman-spotted-at-golden-knights-capitals-game-4/c-279789236).
Vegas Golden Knights Outlook
One thing that has been lacking for Vegas this series has been their resiliency when it comes to goal scoring. Sure, they’re relentless on the ice, but they allowed Washington to go up 4-0 and pretty much never look back.
These high scoring games for Washington came about because of one man: Marc Andre-Fleury. Despite playing his heart out all season long, it seems that the magic has run out as he has disappeared in net for Vegas. Fleury had a series-low .739 save percentage on Monday and allowed 6 goals in just 23 shots on goal.
Fleury isn’t the only starter for Vegas who has disappeared, however. Jonathan Marchessault finally contributed a point on Monday for the first time since game 2. This point was a “garbage time” assist to fellow first liner, Reilly Smith.
Three main contributors for Vegas in this series have been: William Karlsson, Shea Theodore, and Tomas Nosek. These 3 Knights combined for 6 shots on goal, none of which went in. Vegas needs to find consistency when it comes to offensive leadership as their primary goal scorers are not getting the job done.
Game 5 Preview
The Capitals have finally figured out how to beat an unpredictable Vegas team
Gretzky, Orr, Howe, Lemieux, Crosby… and finally, Ovechkin. The one thing holding Ovechkin back in terms of his rankings amongst the all-time greats was his lack of Stanley Cup wins. On Thursday, June 7, 2018, Alexander Ovechkin will finally get to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Capitals have finally figured out how to beat an unpredictable Vegas team and they’re on a roll too, outscoring Vegas 12-5 since their game 1 defeat. Game 5 will play out like the rest of the games this series, high scoring on Washington’s end, and no response from Vegas. Evgeny Kuznetsov will once again be the conductor of this surge as he will have another 4 point night: 1 goal and 3 assists.
For Vegas, Reilly Smith will put forth yet another great effort. Smith had a goal last game and has been a bright spot for the Knights in this series. Smith will have yet another goal in this game and will have an assist as well. This assist will go to Jonathan Marchessault, who finally wakes up when it’s too late for the Knights to respond.
Washington has a reputation of being “chokers” in playoff series. This is due to the fact that the Caps have blown 5 3-1 leads in their franchise’s history, the most in NHL Stanley Cup playoffs history. This Washington team seems to be a different beast in the Cup Final however, and they will finally finish this series out, winning 5-2 on Thursday.