The Vegas Golden Knights have once again set their sights on the Stanley Cup, making their second appearance in the final round of the playoffs in the franchise’s six-year history. The team advanced to the Stanley Cup Final by defeating the Dallas Stars 6-0 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Monday.
Adin Hill was a pillar in net, stopping 23 shots for his second career playoff shutout – both against the Stars. Hill’s performance in Game 6 was a linchpin in securing the team’s advancement, showcasing his poise under pressure.
The Golden Knights are no strangers to the Stanley Cup Final. They previously made a run to the Final during their inaugural season in 2018 but fell to the Washington Capitals. Many players, including Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, William Carrier, Brayden McNabb, and Shea Theodore, have firsthand memories of that 2018 journey.
Marchessault and Smith, who now lead the Golden Knights in all-time playoff scoring, have been instrumental in the team’s success this season. In reflecting on the team’s journey to the Final, Marchessault drew parallels to the inaugural season, stating, “They’re reminding me a lot of the team we had the first year: against all odds…It’s going to be a good series”.
Following the Game 6 victory, the Golden Knights were presented with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, a trophy awarded to the Western Conference winners. However, they opted not to touch it, a decision rooted in both symbolism and sports superstition. Marchessault was particularly vocal about this choice, referring to the team’s loss in the 2018 Final after touching the trophy. “The one that we want to touch is four wins away,” Marchessault said, highlighting the team’s laser focus on the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.
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Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy, however, was indifferent about his team’s decision. “I’m not a superstitious guy at all, so I was game for whatever they decided,” said Cassidy, who led his Boston Bruins team in 2019 without touching the Wales Trophy. “It’s their moment. If they wanted to pass it around, great. If not, that’s fine by me too.
Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers, the Golden Knights’ opponents in the Stanley Cup Final, chose to embrace their conference championship trophy, the Prince of Wales Trophy. Matthew Tkachuk, who leads in postseason points, remarked, “The last thing that we’re going to do is be superstitious about not touching it…We earned that thing”.
As the Golden Knights prepare to take on the Panthers, coaches of both squads will vie for their first title in their second attempt. Vegas coach Cassidy expressed his excitement for the upcoming series, noting the team’s calm and collective belief in their ability to succeed.
Interestingly, ESPN Stats & Information reported that of the 17 teams who have touched their conference championship trophy since 2001, 10 have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. Whether this symbolic act will impact the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final remains to be seen.
Regardless, the Golden Knights are headed into the Stanley Cup Final with determination and a keen sense of what they’re capable of. As we look ahead to the Final, we can anticipate a thrilling series and perhaps witness the Vegas Golden Knights raise the Stanley Cup.