There was no more compelling story in sports than what the Vegas Golden Knights, a first-year expansion team, accomplished during the 2017-18 National Hockey League season. They rewrote the record book for first-year franchises, and not only won their division but reached the Stanley Cup final, joining the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues as the only first-year expansion teams to do so. And Vegas also won a game in the final series, something no first-year team had ever done, before falling in five games to the Washington Capitals.
At the NHL season, oddsmakers had placed the chances of a Golden Knights championship at 500-1, meaning Las Vegas sportsbooks would have taken a bath had Vegas won the Stanley Cup. The Golden Knights posted a 100-point season. Four members of the team - coach Gerard Gallant, general manager George McPhee, forward William Karlsson and defenseman Deryk Engelland - left the NHL Awards with hardware. On the surface, the future certainly looks bright.
Las Vegas Golden Knights Next Game
They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but what happened in Vegas during the first season in Golden Knights history will be talked about in hockey circles for years to come. The Golden Knights won their first three games and became the first team to open their inaugural NHL campaign with eight victories in their first nine games. Vegas set NHL expansion marks for wins (51) and points (109) and consecutive wins (eight).
They were the first expansion team to make the Stanley Cup playoffs in their initial NHL season since the Hartford Whalers and Edmonton Oilers did it in 1979-80. And the Golden Knights were just the third first-year team in NHL history to win multiple playoff rounds. They were also the first NHL team to sweep their first-ever postseason series since the Pittsbugh Penguins took out the Oakland Seals in four games in the 1970 Stanley Cup quarter finals.
This is where you will find all the details of the Vegas Golden Knights schedule. Vegas may hold the most distracting home-ice advantage in the NHL, and it has nothing to do with what takes place between the boards on game night. T-Mobile Arena, home to the Golden Knights, is situated right in the heart of the Las Vegas strip, a place engulfed 24/7 in every form of debauchery known to mankind.
That couldn't possibly be of any interest at all to a group of verile, testosterone-charged 20-something althetes, now could it? NHL teams actually sought to put governors on their players when on Vegas. Some teams even tried to ban their players fron venturing out on the strip. Okay, good luck with that mission. It didn't have any effect. Social media posts of NHL players enjoying themselves at a Vegas casino were commonplace.
Vegas Golden Knights Standings
Situated in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division, that only made the division title won by the Golden Knights all the more impressive. In the playoffs, they knocked off the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and the 2016 Stanley Cup finalist San Jose Sharks. Outside of the Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes, every team in the Pacific Division has appeared in the Stanley Cup final at some point in their history.
The Anaheim Ducks won the Cup in 2006-07, while the Calgary Flames won it all in 1988-89. The Edmonton Oilers own five Stanley Cup crowns, the most recent title coming in 1989-90. Although they've never won the Cup, the Vancouver Canucks have reached the Stanley Cup final three times, and twice lost in Game 7 - in 2010-11 and 1993-94. The Golden Knights are the only first-year team in North American pro sports history to finish in first place in a division that wasn't entirely comprised of expansion teams.
Vegas Golden Knights Betting Tips
Besides their first-place finishes and their respective trips to the Stanley Cup final, the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights and the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues shared another common trait - Cup-winning goalies between the pipes. Glenn Hall, who won multiple Vezina Trophies and a Stanley Cup in his NHL career, was so good in the 1968 Cup final that he won the Conn Smythe Trophy even though the Blues were swept in the final series by the Montreal Canadiens.
The main reason why the Golden Knights charged to the Stanley Cup final was the other-worldly netminding of Marc-Andre Fleury. A three-time Cup winner with Pittsburgh, his save percentage through the first three playoff rounds was .947.
But when his game came back to earth in the final against the Capitals, the Golden Knights came down with him as if they were a worn-out Vegas casino being detonated by demolition experts.
Pittsburgh fans - where Fleury had played from 2003-17- - warned that the day of reckoning was coming. Fleury's career in Pittsburgh was marked by tremendous highs and crash and burn lows. Inconsistency was his trademark, so it may not be wise to count on more seasons of spectacular puckstopping from him.
Was It Too Much, Too Soon?
The traditional M.O. for an expansion team is suffer now to succeed later, but the Golden Knights broke that mold into tiny pieces. The Golden Knights operated with a win now mentality in 2017-18, trading draft picks and prospects away for veterans, and who could blame them? They had to go for it. But how will that decision impact the future of this team?
It could prove to be short-term gain in exchange for long-term pain, and that first-year Stanley Cup run could haunt the Golden Knights in seasons to come.
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