The Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals have a tough opening act to follow in the Stanley Cup Final.
Game 1 saw a thrilling back and forth game, with the Golden Knights riding the home crowd to a 6-4 victory.
That didn’t follow the script many expected, as the goalkeepers for each team came in with serious momentum. Marc-Andre Fleury came in as a favorite for the Conn Smythe (and still is) due to his play through these playoffs. Meanwhile, Braden Holtby entered this series on the back of two consecutive shutouts against Tampa Bay after Washington fell behind 3-2 in the series.
With that in mind, it makes sense that Game 2 Wednesday night in Las Vegas could feature a more defensive, low-scoring game. Neither team wants to consistently bank on having to score four or more goals, as that’s not a recipe for consistent success. With each goalie averaging over a .900 save percentage, it’s safe to assume that Game 2 will likely have less than 10 goals.
Another aspect to keep in eye out for is the physicality. Vegas was coming off eight days rest, while Washington is known as the big hitting team. Vegas is also known as the quicker and faster skating team, so it’s up to Washington’s hitting to establish a physical tone in the game.
They did that in Game 1, outhitting the Golden Knights 38-25. However, they still ended up losing the game and it included a questionable hit by Tom Wilson, who has history of controversial plays, on Vegas’ forward Jonathan Marchessault.
Tom Wilson avoids suspension on his late hit of Jonathan Marchessault. #StanleyCup.
Wilson is the most penalised player in the regular season since 2013, racking up 806 penalty minutes on 255 calls, 20 of those being majors with 11 misconducts and a match penalty. pic.twitter.com/VjmcjkT6Un
— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) May 29, 2018
There was speculation as to whether he would have a meeting with the NHL over the hit and a possible suspension. He avoided a suspension, and yesterday defended his hit on Marchessault as a hockey play.
So with Wilson still expected to be in the lineup, the Capitals will look to bounce back on the road, something they’ve done well all playoffs long. After dropping the first two at home in the first round against Columbus, they came back with four straight victories, including three on the road. They closed out the Penguins in Pittsburgh in the second round, and took three games in Tampa, including Game 7, in the Eastern Conference Final.
They’ll be looking for some of the same road magic in Game 2. If not, Vegas will one step closer to finishing of the magical journey of its own.
8 p.m.; T-Mobile Arena; Las Vegas, Nevada.