The Vegas Golden Knights continue to be the talk of the hockey world and their first round sweep of the Los Angeles Kings has fans asking, how far can the Knights go?
They have already established themselves as the most successful expansion team in the history of pro sports and it seems they are not finished yet. They have advanced to the NHL’s final eight and are awaiting their series with the San Jose Sharks that is expected to start later in the coming week.
Most gave the Knights a good chance of beating the Kings but no one thought they would sweep them, allowing only three goals over the four games. A sure sign of a good team is their ability to win the close games and the Knights just won four of them with only seven goals scored in the four wins. One year ago, the Knights didn’t even have a team and now are just eight wins away from advancing to play for the Stanley Cup.
It just gets tougher from here and like themselves, the San Jose Sharks are also on a roll; disposing of the always tough Anaheim Ducks in straight games as well. Both the Knights and Sharks will be well rested and the week or so off will be beneficial to both teams to heal any nagging injuries.
The Knights won three of four regular season meetings between the two and lost in overtime in the other. It shapes up to be a great series against the Sharks that has local fans excited about what lies ahead. The Knights are relentless in their attack and have given proof to the fact that hard work carries a team a long way. The Knights are motivated and have a star goaltender in Marc Andre Fleury who has already won three Stanley Cups. No one thought Vegas would be where they are today and we should not be surprised if they win this next series. It will be tough series against the Sharks but Vegas coach Gerard Gallant will have his Knights ready to go.
Round one of the playoffs always provides some great hockey and this season is no exception. The first round separates the men from the boys as the saying goes and the Toronto Maple Leafs are finding that out against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have been the NHL’s best team since November and have the Leafs in a 3-1 series deficit as they get set for Game 5 tonight in Boston.
The Leafs need to win the next three, including two in Boston and although it is possible, it is not probable. The Bruins look like a team that could go all the way and so does Pittsburgh. If you were a betting man, picking those two teams to meet in the Eastern Conference Final would be a good bet. The NHL’s flawed playoff system may have the top two point-getters in the Western Conference meeting in the next series. If both Nashville and Winnipeg each win their series as expected, they will meet in the next round, which will make for one heck of a series. It is not a fair system and many think that the highest seed should play the lowest seed. Division rivalries is why the NHL does it this way and with so much league parity, I guess it does not make a lot of difference in who plays who. If the league used a top seed, low seed system, the Leafs would have played Pittsburgh which is not that desirable either.
The former Blue Jay has resurfaced with the Atlanta Braves, signing a minor league deal that will pay him $1,000,000, for this year. That is a far cry from the $25 million plus per year contract he was seeking from the Toronto Blue Jays just a couple of years back. Six years and $150 million are the reports that Bautista was seeking at the time and as we all know, there was no interest from any major League team. He re-signed with the Blue Jays for one year at $18 million and had a terrible year last year. One would think that if Bautista would have requested a more reasonable deal, say three years and $60 million, that he would still be a Blue Jay. The Jays bought him out and said good-bye to a player who was popular in Toronto but disliked in other major league cities. Karma, greed and stupidity are the words that come to mind when describing this situation and there is little doubt in my mind that the Jays are better off without him.
HAVE A GREAT WEEK!
- Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.