NHL Playoffs 2018: Washington Capitals Are The New Favorites To Win The Stanley Cup

Marc-Andre Fleury is a leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy.Marc-Andre Fleury is a leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy.David Becker/Associated Press

The Washington Capitals overcame their history of failure to make it to the Stanley Cup Final. The Vegas Golden Knights don't understand a thing about failure, as all they have done in their inaugural season in the NHL is win.

The Golden Knights started off with a win in their opening game, and they have never let up. They earned first place in the Pacific Division and won their first three rounds in the playoffs with relative ease.

They swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, downed the San Jose Sharks in six games in the second and dominated the Winnipeg Jets in five games to win the Western Conference Championship.

The Golden Knights have met every challenge to this point and have home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final. The series begins Monday at T-Mobile Arena.

                     

Stanley Cup Final Schedule

Game 1: Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights, May 28, 8 p.m., NBC

Game 2: Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights, May 30, 8 p.m., NBCSN

Game 3: Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals, June 2, 8 p.m., NBCSN

Game 4: Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals, June 4, 8 p.m., NBC

Game 5: Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights, June 7, 8 p.m., NBC, if necessary

Game 6: Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals, June 10, 8 p.m., NBC, if necessary

Game 7: Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights, June 13, 8 p.m., NBC, if necessary

                  

The Golden Knights are minus-135 favorites (wager $135 to win $100) to win the Stanley Cup, according to OddsShark. The Capitals are plus-115 underdogs (wager $100 to win $115).

This is the Caps' second trip to the Stanley Cup Final. They made it to the championship round in 1998, when they met the Detroit Red Wings, who swept them in four games.

Braden Holtby is coming off back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7.Braden Holtby is coming off back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7.Jason Behnken/Associated Press

The Capitals earned their trip to the Stanley Cup Final after rallying from a 3-2 series deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. Washington goalie Braden Holtby registered back-to-back shutouts in the clinching wins, and he is going to have to continue to play at a remarkable level if he is going to keep up with Vegas counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury.

Fleury has a 12-3 record in the postseason along with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage. He should have an excellent chance of winning the Conn Smythe Trophy if the Golden Knights are successful in their run at the Stanley Cup.

"Obviously their goalie's playing great and they work together," Washington defenseman John Carlson said, per David Satriano of NHL.com. "They work together really well and kind of attack you with five guys. Kind of like the last three teams we faced. It's going to be a tall task, but I have confidence and faith in this group and what we're capable of."

Vegas Golden Knights @GoldenKnights

✔️Built a history-making team from scratch ✔️11 players with career-best point totals ✔️Did it all largely from the expansion draft Just a few reasons George McPhee has been named a finalist for the GM of the Year Award 👏 #VegasBorn https://t.co/ON2uL662uk

Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt was with the Capitals a year ago, and he was made available to the Golden Knights through the expansion draft. Vegas general manager George McPhee, who held that position with the Capitals from 1997 through 2014, selected Schmidt.

The defenseman says McPhee is just like the rest of the Golden Knights in that he was deemed not necessary by his former team.

"He's a misfit too, just like us," Schmidt said, per Danny Webster of NHL.com. "As much as you reveled, at the beginning of the season, in the idea that you were given away or traded away, I think it's morphed into a sense of belonging to this group. I think he's in the same boat. The building will be a little bit different for him. Other than that, it'll be status quo."

The Golden Knights have the motivation of being a team of misfits who are achieving beyond all expectations. The Capitals have overcome their history of heartbreak and failure to reach this series.

It should set up a memorable and potentially thrilling Stanley Cup Final.

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NHL Playoffs 2018: Washington Capitals Are The New Favorites To Win The Stanley Cup

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