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Stanley Cup Final Daily 5/28: Dealing the Opening Hand

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A Stanley Cup Final no one predicted starts tonight in Las Vegas, with storylines abounding on both sides of the ice.

NHL: Stanley Cup Finals-Las Vegas Views Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Cup Final: Game 1

Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights

Monday, May 28, 2018 - 8:00 p.m. ET

T-Mobile Arena - Las Vegas, NV

Watch: NBC - NBC Sports App - NBCSports.com

SBN participant blogs: Japers Rink - Knights on Ice


Keys to Victory

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals

  1. Great 8 Statement: Let’s be honest: Alex Ovechkin could very possibly never see the Stanley Cup Final again. For the first time ever, the star Russian winger will be on the biggest stage in hockey. He’s done his part in getting his squad to this point, accumulating a career-high 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) this postseason. If you thought seeing Ovi holding onto and never letting go of the Prince of Wales Trophy was an awesome sight, imagine if he got his hands on the Cup. It’s apparent that Alexander the Great is one of the best pure scorers to play the game, but this series will truly determine Ovechkin’s legacy. Will he be the choker who lost to an expansion team or will he finally add a Stanley Cup ring to his trophy cabinet?
  2. Goals, Goals, Goals: Washington’s high-powered offense is scoring at a much higher pace than their opponent as they average 3.47 goals for per game compared to Vegas’ 2.87. The Capitals are capitalizing (no pun intended) on power play opportunities and are converting on 28.8% of their chances with the man advantage. Outside of Ovechkin, the Capitals are receiving substantial offense from postseason scoring leader Evegeny Kuznetsov who has 11 goals and 13 assists. The Capitals will face their toughest opponent yet, Marc-Andre Fleury, who is having an exceptional postseason in net.
  3. Holt It Right There! Despite the postseason that Fleury is having, Braden Holtby has not been a pushover either. He’s posted a .924 save percentage, a 2.04 goals against average and a pair of shutouts. Eleven of his postseason appearances have qualified as quality starts. He could be a huge factor in the series in stopping Vegas’ top line of Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson. - Justin Lape

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Vegas Golden Knights at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas Golden Knights

  1. Too much rest? The Golden Knights have been off for nine days, the longest break a team has faced this postseason. While rest has been an issue for many teams throughout the season, the Knights have also fared well with all of their breaks in the playoffs. After sweeping the Kings, the Knights came off a lengthy rest to beat the Sharks 7-0 in Game 1 of the second round. They lost Game 1 one against the Jets, but were able to win Game 2 to steal home ice, and eventually won four in a row to advance. The rest may be more problematic for the Caps who have gone deep in all of their series, and now have unfamiliar down time which may throw off their momentum.
  2. Marc-Andre Fleury: The Vegas goaltender has the best playoff save percentage in the history of the NHL through three rounds. Fleury’s four shutouts also lead the playoffs, two more than Capitals starter Braden Holtby. Fleury has been standing on his head and has stolen multiple games through the playoffs and is the odds-on favorite to win the Conn Smythe going into the Final.
  3. Top Line Matchup: The Knights’ top line of Jonathan Marchessault, Riley Smith, and William Karlsson have combined for 16 goals and 47 points through 15 games. This includes five game-winning goals, one of which came in overtime. This unit has also been great on the power play, totaling 16 points, with Marchessault leading the team with six points. The Knights rely on this line both during even strength and power play situations. If this line struggles to get going, it will be tough for the Knights to win. - Zeke Lukow