It was always going to be special, just how special though was yet to be seen. The opening game of the Stanley Cup Final, in Las Vegas, with an expansion team taking the ice. The stage was massive and the expectation was for something never seen before.
This site was created to follow a hockey team, one that just won a game in the Stanley Cup Final, so we kind of have to start with the actual hockey. Thus, we’ll go at it backwards, beginning with the empty netter to seal the win and ending with some combination of Lil Jon, Travis Barker, Lee Greenwood.
The Golden Knights hockey team cannot be defined in one way like many often attempt to, and on the biggest stage the sport has to offer, they proved it once again. Most of this postseason it’s been about Marc-Andre Fleury’s dominance between the pipes, yet tonight was far from his best. The Golden Knight defense has been carrying the torch slowing down the potent Jets and Sharks and allowing the Kings virtually nothing, yet tonight, they were a kind of a mess. The top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith can usually be leaned on to dominate stretches of the game, yet tonight they were hot and cold.
Normally when plans A, B, and C go by the wayside a team is sunk Not the Golden Knights because they have narratives for days. Tonight’s is not a new one at all, it’s one that’s followed them all year and is constantly referenced even when not on display in a game. Tonight was about depth.
It’s great when you see those guys get rewarded. They got three huge goals for us tonight. -Gerard Gallant
After playing a series in which there were zero lead changes in five games, the Golden Knights and Capitals Game 1 saw four, the most in the history of a Stanley Cup Final game. The last one was because of a trio of unanswered goals from none other than Ryan Reaves and Tomas Nosek, who scored two.
Sometimes we can’t create a lot of offense, tonight somehow it bounced right for us. It’s not really magical play we are doing, there’s not really a crazy recipe. We are just trying to outwork who we are playing against and tonight we got rewarded. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
There are so many different weapons in the Golden Knights arsenal. If it’s not Fleury, it’s the defense. If it’s not the defense, it’s the top line. If it’s not the top line, it’s the depth players. If it’s not the depth players it’s luck or bounces or opportunity or something completely else. In the end, no matter the path, it usually results in the same thing, a win.
But the night was not just about the on-ice product, it was everything. Gladys Knight, Criss Angel, Lee Greenwood, Lil Jon, and of course Michael Buffer. Like the Expansion Draft with the players, it didn’t all make sense, no one really knew how or if it would all fit, but it did.
A healthy mix of what’s worked in the past while pushing the envelope a bit further than it’s ever been pushed before. They passed on the big name anthem singer to go with the guy the stadium has fallen in love with. Carnell “Golden Pipes” Johnson. They were tasked with amping up a corny pregame show that’s become a YouTube hit while faced with the challenge of finding a way to “destroy” a team basically themed after America on Memorial Day.
Oh, and there was Michael Buffer. The Vegas Golden Knights used Michael Buffer, to introduce the starting lineups and somehow it not only worked, it was incredible.
That was something. It was almost like we were getting ready for a fight. It was pretty exciting and I thought he did an outstanding job. It was fun. -Gerard Gallant
That was pretty cool, I didn’t think that would ever happen. I thought I had to be in the ring to hear that, or the octagon which is even scarier. -Nate Schmidt
Outside Lil Jon put on a concert which felt like a pump up party because he’s genuinely a fan of the team. Blink 182’s Travis Barker led the Drumbots. Gladys Knight and Lee Greenwood both sang patriotic songs to honor Memorial Day, and a local legend, Criss Angel, revved up the crowd before puck drop.
It was a perfect mix of new acts, old tricks, Vegas flare, Memorial Day, Stanley Cup, the Golden Knights, and T-Mobile Arena. Every element whether seen before or not had a place in living up to something incredibly difficult to achieve, creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience when everyone is expecting it to be just that.
It was the Stanley Cup Final in Las Vegas, and like everything else with this team, somehow it all worked. It’s truly unexplainable, but to those who have been around it all year, or maybe even longer than that, it was unsurprising to say the least. From the on-ice win to the off-ice show. Golden Pipes to Greenwood. Lil Jon to Michael Buffer.
As always, Vegas delivered.