Capitals beat the Golden Knights 4-1. With the ongoing joke being that the Caps are just the Sharks of the Eastern Conference, I suppose I could say that my original pick for the winner was right all along, I just had the wrong conference. I’m very happy to see Washington finally get their win and I suppose the “Caps West” label for the Sharks can’t be applied anymore.
Highlights of this series for me:
- Devante Smith-Pelly was a joy to watch. You could see him putting in max effort during every shift, and it paid off. In only 24 playoff games, Smith-Pelly matched his goal count of 7 goals that he scored during the regular season.
- Braden Holtby’s “The Save” + nervous Ovi during the final moments of game 2. It gave Washington their first win may have very well been the source of the momentum that carried them through their next 3 wins.
- The simple fact that we had a Las Vegas vs Washington D.C. match-up. I’m always in favor of anything that spreads awareness of of this sport that I enjoy watching and playing. Having a finals between a brand new hockey market (Vegas) and a team fighting for their very first championship (Washington) will likely bring in new fans.
Predictions/Hopes for next season
- Healthy Joe Thornton at 1C and contributing as he did before his injuries
- Sharks do not win any major trades or acquisitions (e.g. Tavares or Kovalchuk) but their 3rd and 4th forward lines and bottom defensive pairings blossom in the 2018-2019 season. Boedker has a breakout year.
- Injury-free Evander Kane
- Joe Pavelski evolves his playing style. As legendary as he is at fighting for space in front of the net and tipping shots, I worry this play style is diminishing in effectiveness. Pavelski’s goal counts have almost monotonically decreased since 2013-2014. With the projected 2018-2019 top line being Kane-Thornton-Pavelski, the Sharks run the risk of having a very slow top line. I’d like to see a bit more symmetry between Kane’s and Pavelski’s speed of movement so there’s always someone opening up for Thornton to feed.