I’ve been saying it all year. It was always going to be between Vegas and Colorado for tops in the West. And I truly do think it’ll either be the Golden Knights or Avs representing the left side of the bracket when it comes to the Stanley Cup Final.
But before we move on, honorable mention here to the Minnesota Wild, who, to give them credit, were a very good team in the regular season and nearly pulled off the upset against Vegas in a close opening round of the playoffs…except it wasn’t really particularly close, despite what the series record might indicate.
The Wild were largely outplayed in Game 1 but eked out an OT winner. Game 5 we can chalk up to a very rare off night for Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed four goals on 14 shots. Minny was pretty good in Game 6; I’ll give them that.
It’s also worth noting that the Knights were sans-Max Pacioretty, their leading goal scorer, through almost the entire series. He made his presence felt in his Game-7 return, however, and he’ll surely make his presence felt all series long for the Avalanche.
Enough of Minnesota; they’re off to the golf course. The point here is, you’d be sorely mistaken to discount the Golden Knights based on their first-round performance against Minnesota.
Clearly, the Avs have what it takes to beat the Mighty Knights of Vegas. Despite many bumps in the road, Colorado still earned the NHL’s regular season crown. They did what most pundits and bookies thought they’d do, which is look—and play—like Stanley Cup favorites.
The most impressive part of that: They accomplished this feat despite losing the third-most man games to injury.
Again, clearly, the Avs have what it takes to beat Vegas.
But can they? Well that’s a whole ‘nother question.