Impossible dream becomes reality for expansion Knights
Welcome to Impossible.
Those words have been projected onto the ice in big, bold letters at T-Mobile Arena before each game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well, the Vegas Golden Knights are turning impossible into possible.
The stunningly successful expansion squad is headed to the Stanley Cup Final after beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday to win the Western Conference final series in five games.
“I remember eight months ago, when we won against Dallas [in the season opener], we had that unbelievable feeling,” Vegas center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. “Doesn’t feel like we’re satisfied. It’s a good feeling when you know the guys are excited for the next one.”
The Golden Knights are the third franchise in NHL history to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season, joining the Toronto Arenas in 1918 in the league’s early days, and St. Louis Blues in 1968, when all six expansion teams were in the same division and one of them had to make the final round.
Vegas will play either Tampa Bay or Washington on hockey’s biggest stage.
“Either way, we’re not going to be favorites,” said Jonathan Marchessault, who leads Vegas with 18 points in the postseason. “That’s been the case all year.
“Tampa has been the best team all year. Washington, [they’re] playing great hockey right now. Either way, we’re not going to be favorites, and that’s fine with us. We went all year like that and we’re going to keep going.”
Hence, “The Golden Misfits” tag.
Nobody could have scripted Vegas, a 500-1 long shot at the start of the season, making the playoffs — let alone earning a shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup.
But the Golden Knights, who finished fifth in the league during the regular season, just knocked off the No. 2 team in the regular season in Winnipeg, which in the conference semifinals knocked off the No. 1 team in the regular season, Nashville.
Vegas clinched all three of its Western Conference series on the road, becoming the seventh team in NHL history to accomplish such a feat.