Here are reasons to root for upstart Las Vegas in the NHL playoffs.
Searching for a bandwagon to jump on in the NHL playoffs?
How about the Vegas Golden Knights, the team that went up 3-0 in their first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings? There is so much to root for here, and you won’t want to miss out on all the fun.
Let’s break it down:
1. They have the chance to be an all-time incredible sports story: Expansion teams in their first year of full operations aren’t supposed to make the playoffs. They’re usually in tank mode, building up young assets while getting veterans left unprotected in the expansion draft to do their best to build a fan base.
The Golden Knights didn’t just reach the postseason in
Year 1. They nearly won the Presidents’ Trophy for the team with the best record during the regular season. They won the Pacific Division with a 51-24-7 record. And they’re a real threat to run through the Western Conference en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. 2. The “Vegas Flu” might
be a thing: That’s the nickname for the condition that could explain how the Knights won 29 of their 41 home games. The theory: Opposing teams come to Las Vegas, stay up late, gamble and whatnot and come to the arena the next day a little slower than usual.
It really could be that the team is a deep squad filled with savvy vets, hungry youngsters and a goaltender who knows what it takes to win a Cup. But opponents having the temptations of The Strip could help just enough to give the Knights an edge on some evenings. That said, the Golden Knights were great on the road, too. 3. They’re so Vegas: The team embraces the over-thetop nature of Vegas. The pregame ritual features knights battling it out. Their mascot is a Gila monster named Chance. 4. They’re good at hockey: There’s talent up and down the roster, with scoring that can come from any one of the four lines.
They have shot-blockers like Brayden McNabb (sixth in the NHL at putting his body in front of pucks) and Deryk Engelland.
William Karlsson had 43 goals this season after totaling 18 in his first four seasons. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury turned back the clock this year.
This isn’t a fluke. The Golden Knights are legitimately good.
‘Dr. Smooth’ Michael Brantley KEN BLAZE/USA TODAY SPORTS
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who helped lead the Penguins to three Stanley Cups, has the Golden Knights up 3-0 against the Kings.