In easily the most unpredictable, shocking, and incredible story of the year in sports, the Vegas Golden Knights have defeated the Winnipeg Jets and will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS ARE GOING TO THE STANLEY CUP FINAL!#VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/Qdw7b5Rlib
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 20, 2018
The Golden Knights opened the scoring just five minutes into the game with a goal from Alex Tuch, a castaway from the Minnesota Wild. The Jets answered back quickly to tie the game, but, in the second period, Ryan Reaves scored his first of the playoffs for what would eventually be the game-winner. Vegas won 2-1 on the strength of a 32-save performance from Marc Andre-Fleury.
All told, Vegas has swept the Los Angeles Kings, taken down the San Jose Sharks in six games, and now beaten the second-best team in the league in the Winnipeg Jets in just five games. They’ll now face either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final with a chance to accomplish the impossible.
Vegas finding such success so quickly is a pretty hilarious punch in the gut for other teams who have struggled for such a long period of time. Think about the Toronto Maple Leafs who haven’t been to the Cup Final since the league expanded beyond six teams or the Edmonton Oilers who can’t even make the playoffs despite being gifted a surefire Hall of Famer in Connor McDavid. Then there are teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild who expanded into the league in the 90s and have seen virtually zero success since. Also, the team the Golden Knights just beat, the Winnipeg Jets, represent an incredible juxtaposition as the Atlanta Thrashers relocated north in 2011 after failing to ever win a playoff game.
Obviously Vegas was given a better situation than recent expansion teams based on how few players the other 30 teams were allowed to protect, but that doesn’t change just how incredible it is that this rag-tag group of throwaway players has managed to go this deep into the playoffs. At this point, how could anybody bet against them?