The Vegas Golden Knights trounced the Florida Panthers 9-3 on Tuesday to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in just its sixth year of existence and give the City of Las Vegas is first professional title in the four major American pro sports leagues – of course, Vegas didn’t have either the NHL or NHL until fairly recently and MLB is on the way. To repeat as 2024 Stanley Cup champion, Vegas is a +900 second favorite to the Boston Bruins (+800).
Bruins, Not Champion Golden Knights, Favored Win 2024 Stanley Cup
Makes some sense that Boston is the 2024 Cup favorite as the Bruins this past season set NHL records for most points (135) and wins (65) in the regular season but shockingly blew a 3-1 first-round playoff lead to wild-card Florida and lost in 7. The biggest question mark on the B’s is with forward and future Hall of Famer Patrice Bergeron, who might retire at age 37. Fellow forward David Krejci is also 37 and also a free agent.
Bergeron acknowledged that he played in Boston’s first-round series with a herniated disc in his back — which kept him out of the Bruins’ lineup for four games. The five-time Selke Award winner considered retiring after the 2021-22 season but signed a one year-deal.
“It’s definitely not something I’ll use as an excuse,” Bergeron said of the injury in the Florida series. “It is what it is and everyone battles with a lot of things during the playoffs and it’s just unfortunate the way that it happened on a fluke play.”
The Knights won their first Cup eight days shy of the seven-year anniversary of Las Vegas officially receiving an NHL franchise and 2,076 days after their first regular-season game. Vegas lifted hockey’s most sought-after trophy to cap its sixth season in the NHL, joining the Edmonton Oilers (5th season) as the only clubs in the modern era to win a title that quickly.
The Golden Knights became the 34th different franchise to win the Stanley Cup since it first was presented in 1893 – 25 years before the NHL’s inaugural season. Vegas is the 23rd club to win the Stanley Cup since 1927 when the trophy first was competed for only by NHL teams and the 21st active franchise to claim the prized trophy.
Jonathan Marchessault was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. Marchessault ended the postseason with 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists). Linemate Jack Eichel finished the playoffs with a league-best 26 points, but voters may have been swayed by Marchessault closing out the postseason on a 10-game scoring streak, totaling eight goals and seven assists, including an assist in Tuesday’s win. The former Panthers winger was one of six members of the Golden Knights’ inaugural roster to lift the Stanley Cup on Tuesday.
Marchessault’s run came after he got off to a slow start this postseason, though. He had just two assists in five games against the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference First Round.
“I wasn’t happy with my first round, but at the end of day, we found a way to win hockey games, and a bunch of guys stepped up at the right time, and I wanted to contribute and help my team win hockey games, and we were still doing it without me producing,” Marchessault said. “That was one of the things that happen in this year’s playoffs in every round, there was always somebody stepping up, and it was great. Honestly, you don’t get here with one or two guys, you get here with a full effort of the organization, and it’s something you can really be proud of.”
The Knights probably will lose goaltender Adin Hill, but he wasn’t supposed to be their starter for most of these playoffs anyways but was forced into action due to injury. Hill stopped 32 of 35 shots in Tuesday’s 9-3 win. The 27-year-old netminder was responsible for 11 of Vegas’ 16 playoffs wins while adding a stellar 2.17 GAA and a .932 save percentage in 16 appearances. He’s set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Florida played Game 5 on Tuesday without superstar Matthew Tkachuk due to a painful fracture near his sternum. Still, a very successful season as the Panthers upset the Bruins, Leafs and Hurricanes to reach the second Stanley Cup Final in franchise history before running into a buzzsaw in the Golden Knights, who finished first in the Western Conference with 111 points. Of their players who played Tuesday, only defenseman Radko Gudas, Marc Staal, Eric Staal and backup goalie Alex Lyon can become unrestricted free agents July 1 so Florida should be very good against next season. It is +1400 to win its first Cup.
Colorado, Edmonton and Toronto are each +1000 to win it all next year. The Avs won the 2022 Cup, while Canada hasn’t had a Cup-winning team since 1993 and the Leafs have the longest drought in the NHL.
The next big item on the NHL calendar is the draft from June 28-29 in Nashville and mega-prospect Connor Bedard will be the No. 1 overall pick by Chicago. The start date of the 2023-24 NHL regular season is TBA but it usually begins in early October. The NHL plans to hold games in Australia for the first time in league history as the Coyotes and Kings are scheduled to play on September 23 and 24 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
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