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NHL Stanley Finals Game 1 Preview Notes: Capitals at Vegas tonight

GAME PREVIEW WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHLmedia.com

 

 

Series Officials

Referees Marc Joannette, Wes McCauley, Chris Rooney and Kelly Sutherland and linesmen Derek Amell, Greg Devorski, Matt MacPherson and Jonny Murray have been selected to work the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

 

Referees S.C. Final App. Final Games Worked
Marc Joannette 3rd (2008, 2009) 6
Wes McCauley 6th (2013-2017) 14
Chris Rooney 3rd (2012, 2013) 6
Kelly Sutherland 5th (2010, 2011, 2015, 2016) 12

 

Linesmen S.C. Final App. Final Games Worked
Derek Amell 6th (2009, 2012, 2014-2016) 15
Greg Devorski 3rd (2006, 2010) 7
Matt MacPherson 1st
Jonny Murray 3rd (2012, 2016) 6

 

Game 1 Officials

The referees for today’s game are Marc Joannette (#25) and Wes McCauley (#4). The linesmen are Jonny Murray (#95) and Matt MacPherson(#83).

 

2018 Stanley Cup Final Information Guide

A reminder that the 2018 Stanley Cup Final Information Guide is available for download via the NHL’s Media site.

 

Series Notes

* This marks the sixth Final in NHL history – and first in 11 years – featuring two teams each chasing their first Stanley Cup. Either the Golden Knights or Capitals will become the 19th active franchise to win the trophy.

 

Year     Teams

2007     Ducks defeated Senators, 4-1 (best-of-seven)

1999     Stars defeated Sabres, 4-2 (best-of-seven)

1996     Avalanche defeated Panthers, 4-0 (best-of-seven)

1991     Penguins defeated Minnesota North Stars, 4-2 (best-of-seven)

1934     Black Hawks defeated Red Wings, 3-1 (best-of-five)

 

* Since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939, the team that has won Game 1 has gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 78.2% of the time (61 of 78 series) – including each of the past six years. The Boston Bruins were the last team to rally for a series victory after losing Game 1 of the Final, defeating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 2011.

 

* The expansion Golden Knights are seeking to become the first NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL team to win a championship in its inaugural season – excluding the first year of a league’s existence – since the 1950 Cleveland Browns captured the NFL Championship. The NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers (1948-49) and Baltimore Bullets (1947-48) also won the title in their respective first seasons.

 

* The Capitals are playing in the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history and first time since 1998, when they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings (4-0 L).

 

* The Golden Knights and Capitals each have one player on their roster who is a Stanley Cup champion. Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has won three Stanley Cups (2009, 2016, 2017), all with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik won the championship as Fleury’s teammate with the Penguins in 2009.

 

* The only other player on either roster (minimum: 1 GP in 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs) who has skated in the Stanley Cup Final is Golden Knights left wing James Neal, who was a member of the Nashville Predators when they dropped a six-game decision to the Penguins last season.

 

* Fleury was a member of three Penguins teams that eliminated the Capitals from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in 2009, 2016 (DNP) and 2017. Fleury owns an 8-6 career playoff record vs. WSH, compiling a 2.80 goals-against average and .902 save percentage in 14 games. He played all seven games of Pittsburgh’s Second Round series against Washington in 2017, posting a 4-3 record, 2.58 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Fleury stopped all 29 shots he faced in a 2-0 Game 7 victory at WSH on May 10, 2017.

 

* Washington captain Alex Ovechkin has scored 31 goals in 52 career games (regular season and playoffs) against Fleury. That includes 21 goals in 38 games during the regular season, and 10 goals in 14 contests during the playoffs.

 

* Meanwhile, Neal has had a hot hand in career appearances against Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, scoring five times in nine games.

 

* Head coaches Gerard Gallant of the Golden Knights and Barry Trotz of the Capitals, who boast decades of NHL experience, are in quest of their first Stanley Cup rings. After an 11-year NHL playing career, Gallant made his League debut behind the bench as an assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2000 and enters the Stanley Cup Final with more than 1,000 games coached (including 410 as a head coach with Columbus, Florida and Vegas). Trotz made his NHL debut as head coach of the expansion Predators in 1998 and was the team’s coach for each of its first 15 seasons. Finishing his fourth season with Washington, Trotz ranks fifth on the NHL’s all-time head coaching list in games (1,524) and wins (762).

 

* General managers George McPhee of the Golden Knights and Brian MacLellan of the Capitals share a long connection that goes back to playing minor hockey together in their hometown. Born fewer than four months apart in Guelph, Ont., the pair were teammates on the 1977-78 Guelph Platers that captured the Canadian ‘Jr. A’ championship. Led by future NHL head coach Ron Smith behind the bench, the team also featured future NHL goaltender Brian Hayward and referee Paul Devorski.

 

* McPhee and MacLellan played four seasons together at Bowling Green State University from 1978-79 through 1981-82, where both garnered several awards, including McPhee’s selection as the Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner as a senior. Their NHL playing careers also intersected for one season, with the New York Rangers in 1985-86. The pair later worked together in the Capitals’ front office from 2000-14 during McPhee’s tenure as general manager.

 

* McPhee is the first GM in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) and just the second in League history to face a former team of which he was GM in the Stanley Cup Final. The only other NHL GM to do so: Tommy Gorman, whose Montreal Canadiens defeated the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1944 Stanley Cup Final after Gorman led Chicago to the championship in 1934 (vs. DET).

 

* General manager of the Capitals from 1997-2014, McPhee acquired 13 of Washington’s 25 players who have appeared in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Beyond center Jay Beagle (who McPhee signed on March 26, 2008), McPhee also drafted 12 players over a nine-year span, from Alex Ovechkin (1st overall in 2004) to Andre Burakovsky (23rd overall in 2013).

 

* As GM in Washington, McPhee acquired two players currently on the Golden Knights’ roster: defenseman Nate Schmidt (signed as a free agent in 2013) and center Cody Eakin (drafted in the 3rd round, 85th overall, in 2009).

 

* The Capitals will be facing a former teammate in Schmidt, who Vegas claimed from Washington in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Schmidt signed with the Capitals as an undrafted free agent from the University of Minnesota in April 2013 and made 200 regular-season appearances for Washington from 2013-14 through 2016-17. The 26-year-old St. Cloud, Minn., native leads the Golden Knights in average ice time per game during the playoffs (24:52).

 

* Schmidt looks to add to the list of Golden Knights players with connections to postseason opponents who have made a difference in each round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

  • Defenseman Brayden McNabb, claimed from the Kings in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, scored the series-winning goal against Los Angeles in Game 4 of the First Round.

 

  • Center Ryan Carpenter, claimed on waivers from the Sharks in December, earned an assist in Games 5 and 6 against San Jose in the Second Round.

 

  • Right wing Ryan Reaves, a Winnipeg native, scored the series-clinching goal against the Jets in front of a hometown crowd in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.

 

* The Golden Knights swept the Capitals in their two-game regular-season series, with Vegas winning 3-0 in the clubs’ first-ever meeting on Dec. 23 at T-Mobile Arena and taking the rematch 4-3 on Feb. 4 at Capital One Arena. Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves to record his first shutout as a Golden Knight in the opener. Trailing 3-2 in third period of the return match, Vegas rallied to win on goals by Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch. The victory was the Golden Knights’ 20th in their past 27 decisions (20-4-3).

 

* Nevada will become the 16th different U.S. state to host a Stanley Cup Final game since the NHL was founded in 1917-18, joining California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. The District of Columbia and four Canadian provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec) also have hosted Stanley Cup Final games since the League’s founding.

 

* A closer look at how the Golden Knights and Capitals match up (minimum one GP in 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs):

 

Average Height

VGK: 6’1” (73.0”), WSH: 6’1” (73.1”)

 

Average Weight

VGK: 200 lbs., WSH: 203 lbs.

 

Average Age

VGK: 27.8, WSH: 27.4

 

Birthplaces

VGK: Canada (12), USA (4), Sweden (2), Czech Republic (1) Finland (1), France (1), Italy (1), Slovakia (1)

WSH: Canada (7), USA (6), Czech Republic (3), Russia (3), Sweden (2), Austria (1), Denmark (1), Germany (1), United Kingdom (1).

 

Golden Knights Notes

* The Golden Knights are the first expansion team in 50 years from the NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL to even reach the championship series or game in its inaugural season. The 1967-68 Blues were the last to accomplish the feat, emerging from the NHL’s all-expansion West Division to advance to the Stanley Cup Final (where they ultimately lost to the Canadiens in four straight games).

 

* Only one other NHL team has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season, but also was guaranteed to represent a first-year club in the championship round. The 1917-18 Toronto Arenas captured the Stanley Cup in the NHL’s first season, defeating Pacific Coast Hockey Association’s Vancouver Millionaires in a best-of-five series (3-2).

 

* This marks the third consecutive year that a team will make its debut in the Stanley Cup Final. Clubs doing so own an all-time series record of 11-17 in the Stanley Cup Final, with the last three instances ending in defeat – the 2015-16 Sharks and 2016-17 Predators both lost in six games to the Penguins, while the 2006-07 Senators lost in five games to the Ducks. The 2003-04 Lightning were the last team to win the Stanley Cup in its first trip to the Final.

 

* The Golden Knights enter the Stanley Cup Final with a 12-3 record in the postseason. Only 12 other NHL teams have won at least 12 of their first 15 games of a playoff year since 1986-87, when the Stanley Cup Playoffs went to a four-round, best-of-seven format. Four of the previous 12 clubs went on to win the Stanley Cup.

 

* In the First Round vs. LAK, Vegas became the first team from the NHL, MLB or NBA to complete a four-game sweep to win its first-ever playoff series in its inaugural season. The Golden Knights’ First Round sweep over the Kings not only was the first of its kind for a professional team in its inaugural season, but also a rare feat for any club in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in recent years. Only 12.5% of series ended after four games from 2009-17.

 

* Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of his 15 postseason appearances, compiling a 12-3 record with a 1.68 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and four shutouts. That includes a 6-1 mark at T-Mobile Arena, where he has a 1.50 goals-against average, .950 save percentage and two shutouts.

 

* Already a three-time Stanley Cup champion (w/ PIT), Fleury is set to become the 19th goaltender in NHL history to represent multiple teams in the Final. The last netminder to do so was Dominik Hasek, who backstopped the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup win in 2002 after playing in the Final with the Blackhawks (1992) and Sabres (1999).

 

* Fleury, who registered every win during Pittsburgh’s championship run in 2009, can become the 11th goaltender in NHL history to have his name on the Stanley Cup at least four times – and the fourth of that group to win with multiple clubs. He also can become the first goaltender in League history, and eighth player regardless of position, to win the Stanley Cup in consecutive years with different teams and first since Cory Stillman did so in 2004 with the Lightning and 2006 with the Hurricanes.

 

* The line of Jonathan Marchessault (8-10—18), Reilly Smith (2-14—16) and William Karlsson (6-7—13), featuring Vegas’ top three point-producers, has combined for 16-31—47 and five game-winning goals during the playoffs (15 GP). Marchessault’s 18 points match the NHL record for a player with a franchise in its first-ever postseason, set by the Islanders’ Jude Drouin in 1975 (6-12—18 in 17 GP) and matched by the Sharks’ Igor Larionov in 1994 (5-13—18 in 14 GP).

 

* During the regular season, Vegas became the first modern-era expansion team from any of the four North American professional sports leagues to start from scratch and finish first in its division (excluding mergers and all-expansion divisions).

 

Capitals Notes

* Washington owns an 8-2 record as visitors this postseason, outscoring opponents 36-20 in those contests. Only four teams have won more road games in a single postseason, three of which captured the Stanley Cup: the 1995 Devils (10-1), 2000 Devils (10-2) and 2012 Kings (10-1). The 2004 Flames (10-4) also won 10 road games, but ultimately lost in the Stanley Cup Final (4-3 vs. TBL).

 

* Captain Alex Ovechkin scored the winning goal (at 1:02 of the first period) in Game 7 at TBL. It marked the second-earliest decisive goal in a Game 7, behind only Montreal’s Jean Beliveau (0:14) in the 1965 Stanley Cup Final vs. CHI. Ovechkin enters the 2018 Stanley Cup Final with 58 total goals in 116 career postseason outings. His average of 0.50 goals per game in the playoffs ranks ninth in NHL history among players who have appeared in at least 100 contests.

 

* Ovechkin, who eclipsed 600 goals and 1,000 games during the regular season (607-515—1,122 in 1,003 GP), will be making his Stanley Cup Final debut in his 13th NHL season. Only one player has scored more regular-season goals prior to making his Stanley Cup Final debut: Dave Andreychuk, who had 634 goals when he played for the Lightning – and ultimately won the championship – in 2004.

 

* Ovechkin, who registered a League-high 49 goals during the regular season to capture his seventh career Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, paces Washington with 12 goals in the playoffs (12-10—22 in 19 GP). That is two shy of the franchise record in a single postseason, set by John Druce in 1990 (14 in 15 GP).

 

* Center Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the NHL with 11-13—24 this postseason (19 GP), a single-year franchise record. He enters the Stanley Cup Final on a 10-game point streak (6-9—15), another club record and the longest such run by anyone in the playoffs since 2014 (Anze Kopitar: 4-11—15 in 10 GP w/ LAK).

 

* In the Second Round vs. PIT, Washington dethroned the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions courtesy of a Kuznetsov goal at 5:27 of overtime in Game 6 at PPG Paints Arena. In doing so, he became the seventh player in Capitals history to register a series-clinching goal in overtime. Six of those goals have come on the road.

 

* During the regular season, Kuznetsov posted career highs in goals (27) and points (83), raising his point total by 24 compared to last season to become the first Capitals player other than Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom to reach the 80-point milestone since 2009-10 (Alexander Semin).

 

* Goaltender Braden Holtby has not allowed a goal in 159:27, shutting out the Lightning in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. He became the 27th different goaltender in NHL history to record a shutout in a Game 7 and the fifth to do so to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final. Of those five, Harry Lumley and Dominik Hasek also posted shutouts in Game 6 of their respective series.

 

* Holtby, who has started Washington’s last 17 contests after dressing as the backup for Games 1 and 2 of the First Round vs. CBJ, improved to 8-5 in 13 career elimination games (1.73 GAA, .937 SV%, 1 SO). Overall, he owns a 41-36 record in 77 career playoff appearances (2.01 GAA, .930 SV%, 6 SO). Among netminders with at least 50 postseason outings, Holtby ranks second in NHL history in save percentage (.930) and third in goals-against average (2.01).

 

John Carlson ranks second among NHL defensemen with 3-13—16 this postseason (19 GP), single-year franchise records for assists and points by a blueliner. Carlson also sits in the top three among Capitals defensemen in career playoff goals (t-1st; 16), assists (3rd; 35), points (3rd; 51) and games played (t-1st; 95).