For the Colorado Avalanche, the season has been over for a few weeks now.
For the league proper, though, things hadn’t fully hit offseason mode just yet. Everyone was waiting on the Washington Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights to battle it out, hoping to see which of the two fairy tale-esque storylines would ultimately come true.
It was no easy road for the Capitals to get where they were. It’s been nearly 50 years, with almost countless blown 3-1 series leads and heartbreaking letdowns at the hands of the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and more over the decades.
For the Golden Knights, it was almost too easy - but where a practically gold-plated path to the final would be loathed by most for a new team, Vegas had plenty of adversity to overcome to make them an easy favorite for plenty. Nearly every player was a castoff from another team, exposed in the draft or traded as bait to prevent the Golden Knights from taking someone their old team thought was even better. David Perron had been bounced around; Nate Schmidt was the preferred option to lose over Washington’s backup, William Karlsson had been willingly given up - as had Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Alex Tuch, Erik Haula, and Shea Theodore - to protect other players, and Marc-Andre Fleury had left the team that loved him to pieces to make way for a younger version of himself.
They were #VegasStrong and they were easy to like - but ultimately, their storyline fell just short of the truly unbelievable when Washington won it all Thursday night in a five-game series.
We’ll have some real links this weekend, but here’s the best of what you may have missed if you stayed off of social media last night (or, worse yet, had to miss the game altogether):
To start, here’s the most iconic pre-playoff picture ever:
I thought Vegas was going to win tonight until I saw this picture pic.twitter.com/xhBnfjA0Z5— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) June 7, 2018
Ovi, come ON!
We got some great Pierre McGuire commentary in the good old U.S. of A.:
Pierre just said that the team up 3-1 is “a legitimate threat to win this series.” I want to walk into the ocean.— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) June 8, 2018
We had some crazy goals:
Great feed by Alex Tuch finds Reilly Smith for the Knights lead pic.twitter.com/civcw1GnYm— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 8, 2018
And then the equalizer and game-winners, respectively:
What a big-time goal from Devante Smith-Pelly pic.twitter.com/LqeCfrnDVv— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 8, 2018
This could end up being the 2018 Stanley Cup Winning goal pic.twitter.com/NzfP4YqFRj— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) June 8, 2018
The look on Ovechkin’s face when he won was priceless, and the one when he hoisted the cup was somehow even better. But to preserve space and your browser’s ability to load this in a human amount of time, I’ll give it a break and make this our last piece of multimedia shared, just to make you all cry:
TJ Oshie talking about his dad wrecked me pic.twitter.com/2A2hjmx8TE— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 8, 2018
To get into some good thinkpieces and reactions on the game:
From The Color of Hockey and the always-insightful William Douglas, here’s a look at how Devante Smith-Pelly (absolute Scarborough, Ontario legend, mind you, representing my people) always seemed to come up big for the Capitals as the playoffs wore on, as well as some great commentary on what he went through this year and how he feels about an eventual White House visit for the team. [The Color Of Hockey]
For those with a subscription to The Athletic, here’s a look at how some of the NHL’s biggest legends feel about Alex Ovechkin finally getting his due. [The Athletic NHL]
Here’s an incredible look back at how Alex Ovechkin got here, finally removing the ‘but’ from his name and becoming a legend with a Stanley Cup. [ESPN]
And finally, just for fun:
Chicago also just added its first summer pro hockey league, and Kendall Coyne - who you might know as a member of the current Team USA gold medal-winning Olympic roster - has joined up with some pretty big names. She becomes the first woman to join the pro league, where she’ll skate out with guys like Garret Sparks, Christian Dvorak, Brandon Pirri, Brandon Bollig, John Moore, and literally dozens of others. [Twitter]
And we’ll end with a look at
Trump’s inauguration the crowds gathering for the eventual Stanley Cup clinching game: