The season of impossibility is just 4 wins away for the Vegas Golden Knights and I have never been so close to throwing an absolute freak out in my life over a sporting event. At this pace, I feel like I could live 5 lifetimes and never see the Leafs smell a Stanley Cup but the Knights have managed to seal their spot in the Cup Final during their inaugural season? These aren’t fluke wins either, like when I beat my buddies in Chel, even though I get out shot and outplayed by a mile. This is playoff hockey, these players have something to prove, “The Golden Misfits”, the biggest surprise in hockey since the 1980 Olympic Miracle team and possibly the biggest joke to the sport I have ever witnessed in my entire life. We are talking about a team that was literally created with the players that other teams didn’t want, a group of players with zero past chemistry and only one guaranteed all-star. It’s not like they had an easy ride to get here. They battled with 4 goalies throughout the season due to injury and they managed to come out of the regular season 3rd in their conference and 5th in the league. They swept a once perennial contender LA Kings team in the first round, battled to beat a previous Stanley Cup Finalist San Jose team in 6 and handled the big bad Winnipeg Jets in just 5 games.
You may wonder what has been the cause for this storied string of success. Yea, me too. I mean the main guy I have to give credit to, aside from the GM, has to be Marc-Andre Fleury. He has been playing the best hockey of his career at 33 years old. Dare I say that he is finally hitting his peak? What a road it has been for the man who won a Cup for Pittsburgh back in 2009 and then went on to eventually watch from the bench as his next in line, Matt Murray carried the Penguins to their previous 2 championships in ’16 and ’17. This year, he would get the last laugh as Pittsburgh was beat out by the other Stanley Cup Finalist, Washington Capitals in the second round. Let’s talk stats for a second and compare Fleury’s only other complete Stanley Cup run to his current one. In the 2009 Stanley cup Playoffs, Flower went 16-8 with a 2.61 GAA and a .908 SV%. Not terrific stats for a championship run but good enough to pull it off. This year however, much different story. He currently is playing with a 12-3 record while carrying a 1.68 GAA and a .947 SV%. Maybe it has something to do with the low-scoring, top-level defense in the Western Conference or maybe he is just outright unbeatable.
As much as Fleury has been an unreal specimen I do not want the other players on Vegas to go unnoticed. Everyone plays their part on this team and that’s what I love about them. They all know their role and execute it to perfection. They kind of remind me of a group of outlaws from an old western movie with the likes of “Wild Bill” Karlsson, “Old Johnny” March, Deryk “Knight of the Desert” Engelland, “The Real Deal” James Neal and Ryan “The Wrecking Ball” Reaves. I mean c’mon, with names like those who wouldn’t be scared of these guys.
As this Cinderella tale comes to a close I may have to appreciate what this team has been able to accomplish. Through adversity, grit, determination and skill, they have been able to carry an entire city to a chance for the hardest trophy in sports. The one question that remains is, if they do happen to lose this Cup Final, does all of it really mean anything or does their story go forgotten for the rest of eternity. Guess we will have to wait and see.
Oh and by the way I still hate their fans…with a DYING passion.