- Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are one win away from the franchise’s first Stanley Cup
- The Vegas Golden Knights are facing elimination for the first time in 2018
- Washington could become the first team to beat Vegas twice on home ice in the 2018 NHL playoffs
When the Stanley Cup Final began, two teams were looking to accomplish something neither ever had: winning the Stanley Cup. After four games, the Washington Capitals are a game away from history, with a chance to wrap up the title in Vegas against the Golden Knights.
#Caps have won 5 consecutive road games in which they could eliminate their opponent. The last one they lost was Game 4 at Philadelphia up 3-0 in the first round in 2016.
— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) June 5, 2018
This will be the most daunting task that the Washington Capitals have ever faced, before or during Alex Ovechkin’s tenure. Washington made just one Stanley Cup Final between 1974 and 2017, getting promptly swept by Detroit in 1998. Since then, the Caps have faced disappointment after disappointment, always seemingly at the hands of Sidney Crosby.
Game 5 Opening Odds
|Capitals +1.5 (-250)||Capitals (+120)||Over 5.5 (-110)O|
|Golden Knights -1.5 (+210)||Golden Knights (-140)||Under 5.5 (-110)U|
The Capitals have felt at home on the road throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs
This is a different Washington team. The Caps have blocked a playoff-best 405 shots. That’s 17.6 a game, and fourth-best throughout the playoffs. Vegas had averaged 3.58 goals-per-game entering the final. The Caps shot-blocking, and the play of Braden Holtby, has lowered that to 2.75 during the Final.
They’ve also been dominant on the road.
I said it to my friends in Section 417 between periods: This is a '95 Devils level of locked-in for the Capitals. It's incredible.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 5, 2018
The Capitals are 9-3 away from Washington in the playoffs, and wrapped up all three of their series on the road. In clinching games, they’ve outscored teams 12-4.
The Golden Knights meanwhile, have yet to stare elimination in the face. They’ve also won two home games in every series they’ve played.
They swept the Kings (2-0 at home), dumped the Sharks in six (2-1 at home), and sent the Jets packing in five (2-0 at home). Vegas haven’t lost three-straight since late February and they dropped consecutive home games just three times this season.
Washington will be looking to change that.
Can Ovechkin and Kuznetsov power the Capitals’ offensive machine to a Stanley Cup title?
What Vegas has struggled with the most, is the Capitals’ grinding style of play. It’s even tougher to overcome when Washington’s best offensive player has bought in, and hasn’t stopped scoring at the same time.
Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the Final as the Caps’ leading scorers. Through four games, Ovechkin has two goals and two assists, while Kuznetsov has one goal and six assists. His four-helper night in Game 4 helped offset his 4:26 of ice time in Game 2.
Of the Golden Knights’ six losses in the playoffs, four have been by two or more goals.
Vegas’ top performers have gone the opposite direction. Jonathan Marchessault was their leading scorer through three rounds. He’s managed just two assists with the Cup on the line. The same can be said for William Karlsson (one goal, one assist), while a two-point Game 1 makes Reilly Smith’s series seem more respectable (four points).
Do you care about the Conn Smythe Trophy? Evgeny Kuznetsov: “ What’s that going to get you? Nothing, right?”
— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) June 5, 2018
They’ll need more to extend the series.
Game 5 Prediction
The Over/Under for every game of the series has been 5.5. It hit in Games 1 and 4, but fell short in Games 2 and 3. With their season on the line, Vegas may open things up a little more offensively, but they have to take care of their own end first. Washington has had them chasing most of the series.
The last Stanley Cup-clinching game to hit that over was in 2011, when the Kings thumped the Devils 6-1. Two have come close (five goals in 2013 and 2014), but that’s it.
Entering the Stanley Cup Final, the Golden Knights had lost just three times throughout the entire playoffs. If Washington wins the Stanley Cup, Vegas will have surpassed that total in one series.
Despite Vegas paying well as the underdogs, it’s tough to see them pulling out the win, or the cover. Coming into the series as favourites, they’ve played the part at times, but in the last two games, the Caps have beaten them by two or more.
The Cup is going back with Ovie and company to Washington. Whether it goes to the White House or not, is a different bet for a different day.
Capitals 4, Golden Knights 1
Conn Smythe race is Evgeny Kuznetsov vs. Alex Ovechkin. That's it. That's the list.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) June 5, 2018
Conn Smythe Contenders
The Conn Smythe race seems pretty cut and dried at this point. But BetOnline is still offering plus odds for all contenders.
If the Capitals win it’s hard to see it going to anyone other than leading scorer Evgeny Kuznetsov (+160), or Alex Ovechkin (+120). Braden Holtby is on the outside looking in at +800 right now. If he stands on his head again though, and mixes in another show-stopping save he may be an interesting, if unlikely, play.