NBC analyst Mike Milbury said Monday night that he wouldn’t be shocked to see the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to go “further than the second round.”
“They could actually play in June,” he said. “I shake my head when I say that, but it’s gone too long now.”
The Golden Knights continued one of the most fascinating seasons in pro history Tuesday when they downed the Los Angeles Kings with another 1-0 win to finish a four-game sweep of the Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Here are five reasons why the Golden Knights could win the Stanley Cup:
Fleury’s flying: No one, including the Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak, is having a greater impact for his team than Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. In his first three games, he had a 0.84 goals-against average and a .970 save percentage. Fleury, 33, might be playing the best hockey of his noteworthy career. He has been the Golden Knights’ MVP all season. He oozes charm, confidence and charisma. He was born to play in Las Vegas.
Pushy style: The Golden Knights have been in playoff mode since October. Most teams build up their intensity and championship ambition. But the Golden Knights stormed out of the gates in full gallop, displaying a speed-based, hard-charging, relentless, attacking style that is perfect for playoff success. Opponents believed the Golden Knights wouldn’t be able to sustain this taxing style into the playoffs. That theory has proved to be incorrect.
#VegasStrong: Vegas players wanted to do what they could to help their community heal from the mass shooting that left 58 dead just before the season opened. They have forged a bond with the community that seems to inspire them at every home game. Everyone in town is talking about the Golden Knights, and the overwhelming fan support has already made T-Mobile Arena one of the NHL’s loudest buildings. It’s a challenging road game for opponents.
Gallant men: Coach Gerard Gallant has played a major role in transforming a patchwork collection of players into a championship-caliber team. He is a player’s coach, an old-school hockey guy who gets the most out of his players by empowering them and propping up their confidence. He’s an overwhelming favorite to win the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.
Everything to prove, nothing to lose: Every player, coach and member of management came from somewhere else. Everyone performed this season as if they had a chip on their shoulder because their previous team deemed them expendable. Every game, the Golden Knights had someone on the roster who previously played for that night’s opponent and had a special reason to beat that team. That attitude fueled a unified effort to play every game with passion and purpose. The feeling that everyone had something to prove has now carried into the playoffs. It is working even better.