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Historic NHL Playoffs Await Thrilling Conclusion

Vegas%E2%80%99+Jonathan+Marchessault+celebrates+after+a+goal+against+Tampa+Bay.+
Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault celebrates after a goal against Tampa Bay.

Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault celebrates after a goal against Tampa Bay.

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Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault celebrates after a goal against Tampa Bay.

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The Stanley Cup Playoffs are considered among the most exciting events in sports, and for good reason; this season is no exception. With the final round nearing conclusion, let’s take a look back at what has been a momentous season for the NHL.

Without a doubt the biggest surprise of this season has been the Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights are the first team in professional North American sports history to earn a championship berth in their inaugural season. After being approved to begin play this season by the NHL owners, the Knights were expected to completely drop the ball this season, as most expansion teams usually do. Rather than flounder, the Knights, led by General Manager George McPhee and Head Coach Gerard Gallant, finished first in the Pacific Division and defeated the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and Winnipeg Jets in the playoffs en route to a Stanley Cup Final appearance. The Knights have been a true Cinderella story team, taking a mix of old veterans and young, unproven internationals and making them one of the league’s best teams. If the Knights were to win it all, it would result in one of the largest payouts in sportsbook history, as the Knights opened the season at 500-1 odds, the lowest odds in the NHL in this millennium.

Facing the Golden Knights in the finals, the Washington Capitals’ story is equally inspiring. The Capitals have long been a proven team poised to win the Cup, but have always fallen short of their ultimate goal. Ever since drafting Alexander Ovechkin with the number-one overall selection in the 2005 Entry Draft, the Capitals have been waiting for a chance to lift the Stanley Cup as champions. Despiteto this, they were unable to make it past the second round of the playoffs before this year. It had become almost that of a curse; the Capitals would always have one of the league’s best records in the regular season, only to blow a lead in the playoffs. This year, the Ovechkin and the Capitals would have none of it. After defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs, the Capitals upset the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, whom Washington defeated in six games. The Capitals then defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games to reach their first Stanley Cup Final in more than 20 years.

Regardless of which team wins, the result will prove equally improbable. Either Ovechkin finally leads the Capitals to glory, or the Knights end the greatest underdog story in NHL history with a victory for all-time. No matter the victor, the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs will go down as one of the best in recent memory. And both teams will come back next year hungry for another chance to reign supreme.

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Historic NHL Playoffs Await Thrilling Conclusion