Golden Knights, Capitals closely matched in Stanley Cup Final

Updated May 27, 2018 - 12:54 pm

A look at the matchups between the Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals and who has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final:


The Capitals boast the NHL’s leading goal scorer in left wing Alex Ovechkin, who had 49 goals. The Knights counter with center William Karlsson, who had 43 goals and was third in the league in that category.

But both teams boast more than a single top gun. The Capitals have threats in Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller. In addition, Jakub Vrana, Devante Smith-Pelly and Tom Wilson are all capable of finding the net. The Caps also got some unexpected offense in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final as Andre Burakovsky scored twice in the 4-0 win over Tampa Bay to send Washington to the Stanley Cup Final.

Yet the Knights are one of the teams that can match Washington’s offensive depth. Karlsson’s linemates Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith have put up points throughout the playoffs, and Alex Tuch has provided a spark to Erik Haula’s line along with James Neal.

Cody Eakin may not be scoring much, but he has played his best hockey during the playoffs. The fourth line of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Reaves and Tomas Nosek were a key to the Knights defeating Winnipeg in the Western Conference Final.

The wild card? David Perron. Yes, he has yet to score a goal in the postseason. But he has seven assists and can be used on Haula’s line, where he played most of the season, or with Eakin, who he has skated with most of the playoffs. That kind of flexibility is big for coach Gerard Gallant.

Washington has the single biggest offensive threat in Ovechkin. But the sum of the Knights’ parts is greater.

Edge: Knights


The Capitals have a defensive corps that fits in nicely with today’s NHL style of play. They’re fast, physical, can transition quickly and join the rush and are adept at blocking shots. John Carlson is outstanding, one of the best in the league, while Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskenen are both excellent two-way defensemen. Throw in Brooks Orpik and Michal Kempny and that’s a solid, well-rounded group.

The return of Luca Sbisa to the Knights blue line can’t be underestimated. He has done a very good job pairing with Colin Miller and gives the Knights a little more experience. Former Caps defenseman Nate Schmidt continues to shine playing alongside Brayden McNabb. Deryk Engelland and Shea Theodore appear fresh.

The Knights have shown an ability to block shots, too. They will be tested by Washington’s offensive firepower. When these two teams played each other in the regular season, it was Schmidt who drew the assignment of watching Ovechkin. In two games, Ovechkin had just four shots on goal and was kept off the scoresheet.

Edge: Even


Braden Holtby has found his groove and was impressive in posting consecutive shutouts to close out the Lightning. Remember, he started the playoffs on the bench in Game 1 against Columbus as coach Barry Trotz went with Philipp Grubauer. But Holtby has been between the pipes since then and sports a 2.04 goals-against average with a .924 save percentage.

Still, he’s second-best in this matchup.

Marc-Andre Fleury is playing the best hockey of his career and seeks a fourth Stanley Cup ring. Fleury allowed just 10 goals in five games during the Western Conference Final. Overall, he has a 1.68 GGA, a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. And while he has played every second of the Knights’ 15 games, he has been able to rest between each series.

Edge: Knights

Special teams

The Knights face a formidable power play as the Capitals are clicking at 28.8 percent through the playoffs (17 of 59). However, Vegas has been one of the best in the postseason at stifling power plays with a kill rate of 82.5. The Knights rotate three sets of penalty killers and all have been effective, particularly Bellemare and Nosek.

The key will be watching Ovechkin at the left circle and Backstrom from behind the net where both generate plays and are most dangerous.

The Knights have scored on only 17 percent of their power play opportunities in the postseason and Washington’s penalty kill effectiveness is 75 percent. Capitals center Jay Beagle is one of the better penalty killers in the league.

Edge: Capitals


For a guy who reportedly is out the door, Barry Trotz is sure boosting his stock as a free agent should the Capitals not re-sign him. He has his team playing at a very high level right now, and they’re having fun and responding. They faced elimination against Tampa Bay and responded with two big efforts.

Gerard Gallant has a Golden touch. Every move he makes seems to work. He has done a great job of keeping his team fresh and has played all but one of his available players during the postseason.

Edge: Knights


The Knights had home ice advantage in the first two rounds, yet they clinched both series on the road. Gallant has said home ice helps if there’s a Game 7. But as Washington showed Wednesday in Tampa, once the puck is dropped, it doesn’t matter.

Gallant’s not a big mix-and-match guy, but you can bet he’ll have Schmidt on the ice whenever Ovechkin is skating.

Both teams have heavyweights who can change the game with their physical play. Tom Wilson plays on Ovechkin’s line and plays the game hard — sometimes going too far. He was suspended earlier in the playoffs for a hit to the jaw of Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese. The Knights can answer with Ryan Reaves, who has played hard but smart since Gallant put him in the lineup for Game 6 against San Jose and left him in for the entire Western Conference Final. These two heavyweights have mixed it up before when Reaves played for St. Louis.

Faceoffs, which are an important part of the game, are close between these teams. The Capitals are winning 49 percent of their draws while the Knights are at 47.8 percent for the postseason.

Edge: Knights

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Steve Carp at or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

Golden Knights Videos
HyperX Esports Arena hosts "VGK Twitch" event
Vegas Golden Knights players Alex Tuch, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt and Erik Haula attended the “VGK Twitch” event at HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor hotel-casino on Tuesday. The players battled fans and each other at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the members of the Blue Man Group made an appearance as well.
Golden Edge Mailbag: Nick Holden
Golden Knights defenseman Nick Holden takes your questions on our Golden Edge mailbag!
Golden Knights' McPhee, Gallant on trading Brad Hunt to the Wild
Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee and head coach Gerard Gallant addressed trading Brad Hunt to the Minnesota Wild at a news conference on Tuesday.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Fall for the Third Time in Five Games
The Vegas Golden Knights lose to the Minnesota Wild 4-2. Dave Schoen, Adam Hill, and Ben Gotz report from T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights after their loss to the Wild
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant says the team needs to be tougher in certain areas and the players assess their loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Gallant: The Wild had our number last year
Head coach Gerard Gallant says the Minnesota Wild had the Golden Knights number last year. Tuch talks about the playoff hopes of the Golden Knights and Schmidt chimes in on team's tenacity.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Put up Record Amount Shots but Fall Short - VIDEO
The Vegas Golden Knights lose to the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. In the second period the Knights put up a record number of shots on goal but still go back to the locker room down 2-0. David Schoen reports from Winnipeg.
Gallant: Knights played a 'good game' vs. Winnipeg
Gerard Gallant says the Knights played a good game in the loss to Winnipeg on Jan. 15, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Golden Knights power play
Gerard Gallant talks about the Golden Knight power play vs. Winnipeg on Jan. 15, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on loss to Winnipeg
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's loss to Winnipeg on Jan. 15, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Mailbag: Will Brandon Pirri be an official Knight? - VIDEO
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill go over the Golden Knights fans reactions to Jonathan Machessault not making the NHL all star roster and Brandon Pirri potentially joining the Knights.
Gerard Gallant on Winnipeg
Gerard Gallant talks about continuing to play good hockey in Winnipeg. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on facing Winnipeg
Gerard Gallant talks about trying to take 2 points in Winnipeg. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Win In Overtime Against Blackhawks - VIDEO
The Golden Knights win 4-3 in overtime against the Blackhawks with Shea Theodore scoring the game winning goal. Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen goes over the Knights comeback win.
Gallant on Carpenter goal
Gallant on win
Gallant on overturned goal
Gallant CHI 1
Theodore CHI
Golden Knights Win Streak Ends Against Sharks - VIDEO
The Golden Knights win streak ends after a loss against the San Jose Sharks. Golden Knights reporters David Schoen and Adam Hill go over the Knights giving up two goals in the third period and how the team will recover on the road.
Golden Knights React To Loss Against Sharks - VIDEO
The Golden Knights react to their 3-2 loss against the Sharks including Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty and head coach Gerard Gallant.
Golden Edge: Knights beat Rangers for 7th straight win
The RJ's David Schoen and Adam Hill recap the Golden Knights' win over the New York Rangers on January 8, 2019.
CES 2019: VR Hockey Trainer Sense Arena - VIDEO
CES 2019 has a lot of VR options, but none quite as cool for Golden Knights fans as Sense Arena. Former NHL Jan Ludvig and Patrik Eliáš talk about the future benefits and possibilities of technology like this. Eliáš also talks about his experience at his first Golden Knights game this past Sunday when the knights faced off against his former team the New Jersey Devils.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks on Jan. 7
Gallant talked about forward Brandon Pirri being recalled, injuries and more.
Golden Edge Mailbag - January 7, 2019 - VIDEO
Reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill go over all your burning VGK questions and comments
Gallant says the Golden Knights need to keep pressing
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant on how important it is that the team keep playing tough down the stretch as things as the race for the top in the Pacific Division remains close.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Rally Behind Subban
The Vegas Golden Knights pick up their 6th win in a row scoring 3 goals to come back from a 2-0 New Jersey lead. Adam Hill, Ben Gotz, and Dave Schoen report from T-Mobile arena.
Golden Knights on their comeback victory over the the Devils
Vegas Golden Knights players reflect on their come-from-behind win over the New Jersey Devils. Max Pacioretty talks about the becoming a father for the fourth time and then playing.
UNLV hockey program aims for NCAA Division I status
As the hockey culture continues to grow in Las Vegas, UNLV looks to develop its hockey program and eventually reach NCAA division I status. Video produced by Heidi Fang
Schmidt 3rd periods 2
Schmidt 3rd periods
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks on Jan. 5
Gallant talked about the team’s recent run of success in the third period, the schedule and more.
Golden Knights On Five Game Win Streak After Beating Ducks: Golden Edge - VIDEO
The Golden Knights are now on a five game winning streak after beating the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Golden Knights reporter Adam Hill goes over the Knights win.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Win with another Goal from Brandon Pirri
The Vegas Golden Knights defeat the LA Kings 2-0 with another goal from Brandon Pirri and shutout number 6 from Marc-Andre Fleury. David Schoen and Adam Hill repot from T-Mobile arena.
Pirri, Fleury on the Golden Knights shutout win over the Kings
Brandon Pirri and Marc-Andre Fleury discuss the team's play that led to the Vegas Golden Knights win over the L.A. Kings.
Golden Edge: Knights Win Big Against Coyotes
The Golden Knights defeat the Arizona Coyotes after scoring three goals in the third period and allowing one goal from a 5-on-3 power play. Golden Knights reporter Ben Gotz breaks down the highlights from the game.
Closing Out 2018 With The Golden Knights
With 2018 coming to a close, Golden Edge host Cassie Soto shares some of the highlights from the end of the Golden Knights inaugural season and the start of year two. While there were many big sports stories in 2018, none might be as historic as what the Golden Knights were able to accomplish in their first year of competition. The team joined the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues as the only professional baseball, basketball, football or hockey team to make it to the championship round. Although the Golden Knights fell short in their hunt to the hoisting the Stanley Cup, the team was able to unite the city of Las Vegas unlike anything ever before and for that, the community thanks them.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights fefeat Kings giving Subban his first win
The Vegas Golden Knights defeat the LA Kings 4-1 and Malcolm Subban gets his first win on the season reported by Ben Gotz and Adam Hill from Los Angeles.
Ryan Reaves describes the flavors in Training Day beer
Ryan Reaves talks about the flavor of Training Day, the new beer from 7Five Brewing that was launched at the PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018: The Golden Year
The Golden Knights started off the year strong by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals and held many community to be closer with the fans.
Golden Knight Lee Orchard Discusses Career
Golden Knight Lee Orchard discusses his career and what he loves most about being part of an NHL team in Las Vegas.
Ryan Reaves describes his new beer
Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves talks about his new beer from 7Five Brewing at a launch party at PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves visits tavern to launch his beer brand
Ryan Reaves visits the Parkway Tavern to sign autographs for fans and get reactions about his new beer called training day.
Golden Edge: Knights get back in the win column at home
After losing two games in overtime on the road, the Vegas Golden Knights returned home to score a victory over the Colorado Avalanche. David Schoen and Ben Gotz analyze the team's 2-1 victory in their final home game of 2018.
Fleury, Pirri and Stastny recap Golden Knights win over Avalanche
After their 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Marc-Andre Fleury, Brandon Pirri and Paul Stastny recap the team's performance.
Gallant says Golden Knights were recharged after 3 days off
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's win over the Colorado Avalanche and says the time off helped the team perform better.
Golden Knights Suffer Second Consecutive Overtime Loss
The Golden Knights fell to the Kings 4-3 in overtime and will enter the holiday break on a two-game losing streak. Golden Edge reporters Adam Hill and Ben Gotz discuss the loss.
Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley Talks About First Season
Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley talks about the Knights phenomenal first season of the NHL and how they hope to continue the momentum this season.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant previews Islanders game
Gallant discussed William Carrier’s hot streak, shuffling his lines and more.
Gallant NY 4
Gallant NY 3
Gallant NY 2
Gallant NY 1
Gallant NJ 3
Gallant NJ 2
Gallant NJ 1
Golden Knights center Paul Stastny on rejoining the lineup
Golden Knights center Paul Stastny on rejoining the lineup. David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Golden Knights center Paul Stastny discusses his injury
Golden Knights center Paul Stastny discusses his injury. David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Knights center Paul Stastny discusses his return to the ice
Knights center Paul Stastny discusses his return to the ice. David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Deryk Engelland at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was a new experience for Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland on Wednesday night. He said he was looking forward to spending time with family and going for a skate, as well as lighting the Christmas tree for fans.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like