Las Vegas versus Washington for the Stanley Cup.
Guys, we may be hockey-blessed with this one. No matter who you root for, this final has storylines that any fan should find intriguing. At the heart of them all is one fact, the two teams are polar opposites. And that makes for a great tale.
On the one hand you have Vegas. The darling of the NHL. A cast of cast-offs led by one of the true good guys in hockey, the veteran goalie playing the best hockey of his life. It’s hard not to root for them, and if they win it’s history in the making.
The team is comprised solely of has-beens coulda-beens and could-bes collected by GM George McPhee at last year’s expansion draft. They were written off from day one as not having a snowman’s chance in hell of making the playoffs. Now they may win it all.
Then you have Washington. Disliked by a larger portion of the fan base, they play the role of the intriguing bad boys. You’ve got two of the most polarizing players in hockey in Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin.
One is loved or hated for his punishing hits and the old school way he toes the line. Wilson raises everyone’s adrenaline when he’s on the ice. The other is the eternal bridesmaid. For all of his skill, fame, and swagger, Ovi has never won anything beyond individual awards. Better yet, the fans seem to eat that up. Half of the league revels in his pain, the ultimate schadenfreude. The other half feels he deserves to win a cup more than almost anyone.
Beyond this, the paths the two teams took to get here are as different and exciting as possible. Las Vegas’ journey was an all out sprint from opening gate to finish line. Washington’s, on the other hand, was a winding uphill quest, overcoming years of disappointing collapses and early exits. One team has taken the league by storm, the other refuses to die.
Even when you look at long term team history these two clubs are very different. Washington’s entire city has never won a major sports championship. Vegas has no history and might be about to win one already.
These storylines should not be overlooked. As much fun as the chance of a Penguins repeat last year, or Chicago cementing a dynasty several years before was, these two combatants offer us something we hockey fans haven’t seen in a while: fresh meat and virgin brows.
Neither team will be a repeat champion in this league. Even more amazingly, take a guess how many times in the last 10 finals we’ve had two teams not from Chicago, LA, or Pittsburgh playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
ONCE: 2011, Boston over Vancouver.
It was time for a change of scenery, and boy have we gotten it.
After one game, Vegas leads 1-0 in a barnburner of a Game 1. However, I think this will be anything but a blowout. Its going to be a slugfest. And it is going to be great.
No matter who you root for, don’t miss this cup final. It could be one for the history books.
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