Stanley Cup Playoffs
Golden Knights Become Stanley Cup Favorites; Is it Their Time?
Six years ago, Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley privately told people he wanted a Stanley Cup within six years. That tidbit might be more legend than fact, but six years later, the Golden Knights stand on the cusp of the best chance they will get. The regular-season juggernauts and past Stanley Cup champions are gone. The Golden Knights got past the most explosive offense in the NHL, and upsets have delivered a clear runway.
The Golden Knights can and probably should win the 2023 Stanley Cup.
Oddsmakers have installed them as a favorite (+210) and the Carolina Hurricanes (+200).
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There isn’t a better team still alive in the playoffs than the Golden Knights.
Not the Seattle Kraken. Not the Dallas Stars. Neither is better than the VGK. The Florida Panthers wormed their way into the playoffs largely due to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ collapse at the end of the regular season. One wonders if their hot play will eventually cool; they pulled the major upsets by discarding the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, but will Cinderella’s carriage eventually turn into a pumpkin?
The best competition for the Golden Knights would be the similarly constructed Dallas and equally tough Carolina Hurricanes.
However, Carolina doesn’t have the depth scoring that Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy regularly deploys.
Vegas has been to this part of the nightclub before. Three times prior, the Golden Knights have been to the Western Conference Final, or equivalent (counting the 2020 bubble, which promoted a Final Four rather than a conference final), and twice before, the Golden Knights have gone home empty-handed.
They’ve been to the club, but now it’s time to own the dance floor.
Jack Eichel has 14 points (6-8-14) in 11 games. Mark Stone has 12 points (5-7-12), while Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault have 10.
In total, seven Golden Knights have at least eight points, underscoring the Golden Knights’ depth and four line waves. Only Dallas has more (8) but has played one more game (12) than the Golden Knights. Carolina has five players with at least eight points, but none with more than 10. Seattle also has five. Florida has six.
Only Florida has a consistent top-shelf goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, but he remains given to fits of brilliance and inconsistency.
Additional responsibility will be placed on goalie Adin Hill.
Steller goaltending is a must. Just ask the departed Edmonton Oilers. However, Hill’s big-boy performances in Games 5 and 6 bode well for the Golden Knights.
“Good for Adin. I mean, he was a wall at the end. So give him credit, too,” Cassidy said. “Any time your goalie makes saves, you always look like you defend well or better. And the opposite is true, too.”
In three playoff appearances, Hill has a .934 save percentage.
But no other remaining team can quite match the depth of scoring combined with physicality and a stout defense led by Alex Pietrangelo. Jack Eichel continues to grow into a playoff scorer, too.
Eichel’s performance against McDavid throughout Round Two should serve as an eye-opener. If Eichel can outperform McDavid and more than double his 5v5 production (he had seven points in the series, including two goals, compared to McDavid’s three points), he best anyone.
It’s a chance for Eichel to finally assert himself among the game’s marquee No. 1 centers. It’s a chance for Bruce Cassidy to earn a little redemption or vindication after an unceremonious end to his Boston Bruins tenure. And it’s a chance for the Vegas Golden Knights to finally kick down the door after five years of knocking and hoist the Stanley Cup.
Trust me, Las Vegas has hosted a few parties in its time, but none will compare to a Stanley Cup party.