This is it for the Vegas Golden Knights, or is it? The Golden Knights are in a must-win situation in Game 5. A loss and their fairy tale season is over on home ice. They would at least be able to have a going away with their fans in what has been an unbelievable year for the expansion franchise. It takes four games to win a series, though, it is not impossible to make a comeback.
Teams have done it before, and for a team that has defied the odds, let’s not count the Knights out just yet. It would be the ultimately choke job by the Capitals if they blow this. They’ve become infamous for choking in the playoffs, but this would be another level of choking. I don’t know how Ovechkin would recover from a blow like a 3-1 collapse in the Stanley Cup Final. That’d be quite the kill shot.
In any event, the Capitals can’t think of it like that. They are in complete control and have the Golden Knights backed into a corner. The Knights looked absolutely defeated in Game 4, a tired team that is just about hitting empty in their tanks. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Oshie have been too much for the Vegas defence to keep up with.
That’s appeared to be the case as games get longer, so there is some element of the Knights skating without their legs underneath themselves. Vegas had all of the chances in the world to go ahead in Game 4 early. James Neal had the most open net anybody is ever going to get and he misfired it wide. He had too much time to think about it. A bang-bang play and he likely buries that without any trouble. However, he had to adjust himself and get set before firing.
Who knows what happens if Neal scores that goal. It could have changed the entire dynamic of the rest of the game. This was minutes after the Knights deflected a puck off the post. When Neal missed that opportunity, I think just about everyone knew how the rest of the game was going to go. People are blaming Marc-Andre Fleury, and while he looks exhausted, this is on the lazy and tired Vegas defence. We’ll see how they do with the extra day off and home ice. Head below for our free Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 5 pick of the Stanley Cup Final.
Washington Capitals vs. Vegas Golden Knights Game 5 Pick
This series isn’t about Fleury, he is doing everything in his power to get this team a Stanley Cup. The Capitals are simply overpowering him with odd-man rushes and lopsided play in front of the net. The Golden Knights were one of the best teams this season at taking away passing lanes, and I was getting high on them because of this notion, but the Capitals have broken the levy. While the Golden Knights have been terrific at taking away lanes in their own zone, the Capitals are the best team in the NHL at playing tic-tac-toe hockey in the opposition’s zone. The Caps have found a way to exploit the Vegas defence and haven’t let up.
The Golden Knights have just gotten unlucky on offence, they can’t really control what happened to them in Game 4. An inch here and there and that game may have been a completely different result. Usually, those chances will start converting into goals, so I had zero issues with that part of their game in Game 4. However, if the defence fails to help out Fleury again, it’s going to be a tough chore to overcome. I think they will do a better job, but unless they have a week of rest, it’s not going to improve drastically enough to hold back Ovechkin and company. The defence just look dog tired.
Nevertheless, the scoring chances the Knights had in Game 4 will likely turn into goals at home. I see them coming out hot and grabbing a lead, before the Caps come on strong in the 2nd and 3rd as they start to pick on the tired legs of the Knights. Who will ultimately come out on top in Game 5? I foresee it being close. In any case, Vegas is going to come out firing on all cylinders. We’re going to have to see if they can fend off a furious rally by the Caps, though. In what I see as a 4-3 or 5-3 game, I will ride with the OVER on the Vegas Strip.