5 burning questions heading into the Stanley Cup Final


"We have stains on it", said Steiner. "I think he needed a break from the game, needed a break from how it went down for him here and it just took time". The good news for the Capitals should they manage to down the Golden Knights in Game 1, though, is that the past two road teams to steal a game to kick off the final - the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks and 2012 Los Angeles Kings - have gone on to win the Cup. The Capitals won just 19 games in their first two seasons and didn't have a winning record until eight years into their existence. "For that reason (and not just the presence of Alex Ovechkin), there's a devoted fan base in Washington and that wasn't the case when McPhee took the job there". I was probably the same as everybody else - 'We'll see how they do after 10 or 15 games after the excitement has worn off, or if we're for real.' And then damn if it doesn't keep going.

"You know, we wanted to be good", McPhee said.

The Capitals fought tooth and nail to make it to the finals, playing three Game 7 series in a row.

Players don't get a meaningful say in the nature of their working conditions; they must accept them as they are or cede the ambition to become a professional hockey player. Both teams have defied expectations this year.

From the moment the Golden Knights were able to start competing against the rest of the National Hockey League, they've been relentless, ferocious, and to this point almost flawless both on and off the ice, and if they win four of the next seven, the word "nearly" won't be needed anymore. Gerard Gallant was a solid National Hockey League forward for Detroit, but the 54-year-old bench boss had never even won a playoff round as an National Hockey League coach before this spring.

Washington, which is also led by Evgeny Kuznetsov, reached the Finals one other time in its history, losing to Detroit in four straight in 1998. The Golden Knights' Marc-Andre Fleury has come alive from the start of the playoffs, with a 1.68 goals-against average. And they want to see the Stanley Cup paraded down the Las Vegas Strip. In the latter game, Reilly Smith had a pair of goals to key the win. The 33-year-old returned in December.

"If you would have told me this in 1978, I would have said you're full of crap", Devorski said over the phone on Friday.

Fulham - Championship - 26 May 2018
Tom Cairney's goal in the first-half was enough to secure a return to the top flight for the Craven Cottage side. Aston Villa will now have a summer of transition after missing on promotion to the Premier League.

"I'm very happy to be associated with the staff that I'm associated with", Kisio said.

Braden Holtby started the season strong for Washington, producing an above-average.916 save percentage from October through January. But he has flourished since taking over the No. 1 role, compiling a 12-6 record with 2.04 GAA and a.924 save percentage.

What happened with Vegas is that GM George McPhee had an MVP season.

"I think it's weird seeing that team here, being in the Cup the first year", said Brooks Orpik, the only Washington player with a ring. It will be immediately and forever be remembered as the high point of the Gary Bettman NHL era.

Washington coach Barry Trotz said he knows the Golden Knights have three dynamic duos that each feature one offensive guy who can skate and move the puck - that being Miller, Theodore, and Schmidt - paired with more of a traditional stay-at-home defenseman who isn't afraid to get physical, block shots and slow the opposing team's pace - such as Sbisa, Engelland, Merrill and McNabb.

When 58 country music concert-goers were gunned down October 1 in the worst shooting in American history about a mile from the rink, the Golden Knights were suddenly thrust in the middle of the healing process by the way they stepped forward to visit survivors and first responders.

Then again, Winnipeg was a big, physical team, and Vegas beat the Jets in five games to create this intriguing and improbable matchup.