10 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STANLEY CUP FINALS
It starts tonight in Las Vegas: Six words no one would have predicted back in October, when the Stanley Cup chase began.
Here are 10 burning questions for the best-of-7 series:
1. Can Vegas Golden Knights’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury keep up his sensational post-season magic? He has a 12-3 record with a .947 save percentage and that ridiculous 1.68 goals against average.
2.NBCSports.com notes the Capitals reached the Stanley Cup Finals “primarily by slowing down the (opposing) offense in the neutral zone with a 1-1-3 trap. As fast as the Penguins and Lightning were, however, the Golden Knights are even faster. Will the trap be as effective against Vegas??
3. Which team has the greatest mojo going: the Caps, as the long-denied team of destiny? Or the Golden Knights, as one sports’ greatest Cinderella stories?
4. NHL.com: “Never before in league history have two teams faced off with so little prior history between them. Vegas is not the first first-year expansion team to reach the Cup final; the St. Louis Blues did so 50 years ago, facing the Montreal Canadiens in the final. But the Blues and Habs faced one another four times during the 1967-68 regular season. What's it going to be like for these two teams with little history with one another and no pent up .animosity to go at it for the Stanley Cup?”
5. Vegas’ strong suit? “You can never take a shift off against the Golden Knights. There is no weak line to exploit. They come at you with four lines and relentless pressure and forecheck for 60 minutes.” –NBCSports.com
6. Can Alex Ovechkin and the Caps finally exorcise their demons? Ovechkin has taken the Caps to their first finals in 20 years. He no doubt hasn’t forgotten ESPN analyst Barry Melrose’s stinging words after coming up short again a year ago: “I really think it’s time for the Washington Caps to look at moving Alex Ovechkin. It think it’s to that point, and it’s for his sake… He can’t win in Washington right now.”
7. Can Vegas continue to dominate on home ice? The Golden Knights are 35-11-2 at home (29-10-2 during the regular season and 6-1 in the playoffs.)
8. Mark Madden of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review puts the Ovechkin-Fleury rivalry in perspective. “It's not like Ovechkin has been stymied continuously by Fleury. Ovechkin has 22 goals in 38 career regular-season games against Fleury, 10 goals in 14 postseason contests. That's 32 goals in 52 games. Above and beyond. But he never scored a goal that beat Fleury in a playoff series. Can he get it in the Stanley Cup Final?”
9. How are the experts seeing it? NHL.com asked their 14 staff writers and editors to predict the winner. The poll ended in a 7-7 tie. ESPN.com sees it 8-6 in favor of the Caps, with Melrose predicting Washington in six. Sean McIndoe, a veteran hockey writer based in Ottawa, Canada is going with a Washington sweep. He writes for The Guardian.
10. John Walton, the radio voice of the Capitals, is known for his breathless signature call “Good morning, good afternoon and good night (insert losing team)!” The question is: will he end a Caps’ win with “Good Morning, good afternoon and good night Vegas!” or “Good morning, good afternoon and good night Knights!”