History is going to be made in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals, as the Washington Capitals take on the Vegas Golden Knights. The Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup in their 43 seasons and played in just one Final, while the Golden Knights are playing in the Final in their first season of existence. The Golden Knights have home ice advantage in this series, with Game 1 set for Monday night in Las Vegas. Let’s look at the series and Stanley Cup Finals picks.
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Washington Capitals +115
Vegas Golden Knights -135
Washington Capitals vs. Vegas Golden Knights
The Capitals are coming off a 4-3 series win against Tampa Bay, while the Golden Knights are coming off a 4-1 series win against Winnipeg. Both teams will have had plenty of rest, as the Capitals finished off Tampa Bay on Wednesday, while the Knights have been off for more than a week.
Washington finished with 105 points in the regular season, while the Golden Knights had 109. Both teams had very similar home/road records. The Capitals were 28-13 at home and 21-20 on the road, while Vegas was 29-12 at home and 22-19 on the road. The Capitals were have been excellent on the road in the NHL Playoffs, winning 8 of their 10 road games. Washington averaged 3.1 goals per game in the regular season and gave up 2.9 per contest. Vegas averaged 3.3 goals per contest and gave up 2.7 per contest.
Key Matchup - Holtby vs. Fleury
The Capitals got excellent play from goaltender Braden Holtby against Tampa Bay, as he is coming off consecutive shutouts. Marc-Andre Fleury has been outstanding in the playoffs with a .947 save percentage.
The Capitals don’t need Holtby to outplay Fleury, but he needs to keep it close. The Lightning got excellent play from Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Capitals still found a way to win and Holtby played very well in the last two games. Vegas can’t win this series unless Fleury is great and so far in the playoffs he has been.
These two teams met twice this season with the Golden Knights winning both games. The Golden Knights won 3-0 at home in December and Vegas won 4-3 in Washington in February.
Free NHL Picks
I had a pretty good feel for Washington in their series against Tampa Bay, but I have had no clue at all with Vegas this season. I have been surprised by Vegas all year long. I just didn’t think they had the players to beat the best teams in the NHL. They have proven me wrong and now they are favored to win this series. I still don’t think they should be favored, as I think Washington is the better overall team. What the Golden Knights do have is Fleury and he has been exceptional in goal. He has stolen a number of games in the playoffs and he is capable of stealing this series. The problem for Vegas is that they need Fleury to be outstanding, because they don’t have many other edges in this series. Vegas will be playing at home, but Washington has been outstanding on the road in the playoffs. Washington has better overall scoring depth and they have a superstar player in Alexander Ovechkin. The Capitals also have the better overall defense, although Washington has a major hole, as Michal Kempny is a mistake waiting to happen.
The Capitals have proven throughout this year’s playoffs that they are a very tough team that finds ways to win, while the Golden Knights have Fleury. I think the Capitals are the better team and will win this series unless Fleury plays out of his mind and steals the Stanley Cup.
NHL Odds: Capitals to Win the Stanley Cup
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