2018 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

scfinal-previewAlthough hockey is one of the major team sports the Stanley Cup Finals have become a story of two specific players.

Both the Washington Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights are much more than these two players, or else they wouldn’t be here at this point facing their first titles.

These are complete teams that have found a way to get through the rest of the league and sit at the final series ready to raise the Cup.

As great as these teams are they do both have one common factor, as one player on each is looking to make his impact and prove people wrong.

They have come from very different paths but both find themselves four wins away from keeping everyone silent.

In Washington, the story of the series will surround one of the best players in the league playing right now and one of the most prolific goal scorers ever.

Alexander Ovechkin has been one of the top goal scorers since entering the league and he was always supposed to be that player.

He was the next one from Russia and one of the only players that could possibly have rivalled Sidney Crosby for the title of best in the league.

He would always be compared to Crosby and as their careers moved on they began to separate with a clear division.

Crosby would go on to win titles and put up massive points while Ovechkin continued to score goals without the team success.

Slowly Crosby pulled away and Ovechkin began to be looked at as another player with a ton of skill and not much to show for it.

Although he has plenty of years left in his career he is likely on the back half and so questions began to arise about how he would be remembered.

Every year the Capitals would be great but not great enough to win a Stanley Cup forcing Ovechkin to become the greatest player without a championship.

It seemed more likely that he would either have to move to a new team or he would just become a Hall of Famer with that asterisk of not having won the Stanley Cup.

This year a lot of the same was said about him as many thought he would be great but he is only one player who can’t win a title all by himself.

The Caps were surely going to collapse in the playoffs and he would see another season go without a championship.

That wasn’t the case though as the Capitals found their way through the playoffs and brought Ovechkin to his first Stanley Cup Finals series.

Now is his chance to finally break through and get that title that will cement him as one of the greatest to ever play the game.

He may go down as that anyway but the title is that sure thing that adds to a great player’s legacy, and something that Ovechkin has never been able to get.

His counterpart for the Knights is on a very different path as Marc-Andre Fleury already has three Cups under his belt.

As a part of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury has been to this spot before and has been a key part of multiple championships.

In his first Finals appearance in 2009, he was a massive part of a young team who beat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games.

Without the performance of Fleury, the Penguins would likely not have been champions that year and he forever became a hero.hockey-sidebar

As the years went on though he seemed to be losing his grip on the starting role and last year played more of a backup role to Matt Murray in the Penguins’ latest Cup win.

The writing was on the wall for the Canadian and as the expansion draft approached it seemed obvious that he would be headed to Vegas as the new starting goalie.

After essentially being passed by at his old home the question was whether or not he had what it took to be a starter in the NHL.

Was his time already over? He had already put a good career in with three Cups and a few awards but losing his starting role seemed to be a sign of his decline.

He headed to Vegas as their biggest pick-up in the draft and looked to prove that he still had what it took to be an NHL starter.

He proved it in a big way guiding the Knights to the top of the Pacific division and through the playoffs.

He has been one of the biggest reasons for their rise and their amazing run through the playoffs already proving that he is far from done.

Earning his fourth Cup and second as a very big part of the team, possibly even as a Conn Smythe winner, is sure to leave no doubt.

Both Ovechkin and Fleury will literally go head-to-head with Ovechkin trying to get pucks past Fleury and the goalie looking to stop the inevitable shots from Ovi.

To win the title neither can do it by themselves but their teams also can’t do it without their contributions.

Both Ovechkin and Fleury will be important parts to this Stanley Cup Finals but only one will walk away with the Cup in their hands.

sc-prediction

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