The Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets get their third-round series underway in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Wait, what? Vegas and Winnipeg? You read that right, two teams that weren’t even on the map are going to square off in the conference finals of the Western Conference. Huge kudos to both of these clubs, who defied the odds and didn’t listen to the pundits who didn’t have these teams anywhere near a conference championship. How can you blame them, really? The Golden Knights are an expansion team, it’s their first year in the NHL. They had some better draft rules than previous expansions team, but still, they were not expected to be a playoff team, let alone in the final-4.
The Knights were intelligent enough to draft a goaltender who has been here before. The idea for their season was that Marc-Andre Fleury was going to have to stand on his head and they’d pick up a win here and there. Amazingly enough, Vegas haven’t needed to depend on Fleury. Yes, they’ve needed him to come up big in spots, like any other goaltender, but the rest of the team has played a pivotal role on this roster. How about William Karlsson? Here’s a guy that had only had 6 goals and 19 assists a season ago. In 2017-18 with the Knights, Karlsson went bonkers for 43 goals and 35 assists. How does that feel, Columbus Blue Jackets? For our free Golden Knights vs. Jets pick of Game 1 in the Western Conference Final, head below.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets Game 1 Pick
The Golden Knights have taken that energy from the regular season, and it’s carried over into the playoffs. They’ve already knocked off the LA Kings and San Jose Sharks, now they have their eyes set on the Jets. Whoever wins this series, it’s going to be crazy to think that the Golden Knights or Jets are going to be in the Stanley Cup Final. The way they’ve been playing, though, they’re both worthy of being champions. It’s been the defence and goaltending that have stepped up tremendously for Vegas. In the playoffs, they’ve allowed just 1.7 goals per game. It’s been a complete team effort between Fleury and the defence. Likewise, the Jets’ defence has been good with 2.33 goals allowed per game for 3rd out of 16 playoff teams.
Offence is where the Jets have had the edge. Led by Patrik Laine, the Jets are tied for 1st in the league in the playoffs, with 3.58 goals per game. Not that big of a surprise, this team was 2nd in the regular season in goal scoring. So, not much has changed in that regard. Mark Scheifele has been terrific and taken a lot of the pressure off Laine. Scheifele has scored 11 goals in the postseason to lead the NHL. When it comes down to this, I believe this is going to be a series dominated by home-ice. Both of these teams are typically great in their own arena. The Jets did not play good in their last game in Winnipeg, losing to the Preds but they were fortunate enough to win in Nashville in Game 7. I believe the Jets get back on track at home and get a win in Game 1 on Saturday.