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Five Sports Illustrated Experts Pick Vegas To Play For The Cup (Plus Our Picks)

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As we continue holding out for some level of hope for the NHL season to resume, some outlets are continuing the tradition of making their annual Stanley Cup predictions. This year Tampa Bay and Vegas were the two teams most picked to play in the Cup finals by Sports Illustrated.

Five SI experts chose the Golden Knights to participate in the Final if the season were to continue play. Unfortunately, four out of the five picked the Golden Knights to lose in the Stanley Cup Final.

Matt Larkin: Lightning over Golden Knights in six

Sam McCaig: Lightning over Golden Knights in five

Edward Fraser: Lightning over Golden Knights in six

Ryan Kennedy: Lightning over Golden Knights in six

Each prediction had Vegas losing to Tampa in six games or less. Ouch, not even one deciding game. The lone SI expert that awarded Lord Stanley’s cup to the Golden Knights left Tampa out of the Final completely. Here’s his explanation of why he chose VGK as the 2020 NHL champions.

Dan Falkenheim: Golden Knights over Bruins in six

Since Jan. 15, no team has a higher share of expected goals (58.5%). Robin Lehner’s arrival ensured Vegas would enter the playoffs with the NHL’s best netminding situation. And all the sudden, with Max Pacioretty turning back the clock, the Golden Knights looked like the West’s top team before the pause.

Much less drama for the Bruins, some 2,700 miles away. Save for a mediocre 4-5-6 stretch running from early December into the New Year, Boston has been the league’s most consistent team throughout the season. Tuukka Rask’s emergence as the Vezina frontrunner helped the Bruins carve out an eight-point lead in the Atlantic Division and serves as a reminder that he can carry a team as far as he wants to. Both Boston and Vegas are built to withstand the rigors of postseason hockey—each has reached the finals within the last three years—but the Golden Knights are the team that comes out on top in a matchup between recent Stanley Cup losers. -Dan Falkenheim, SI.com

It’s an intriguing matchup, to say the least. The last two Stanley Cup runner-ups battling to end their finals losing streaks. Both teams are recognized for elite-level skill and fantastic goaltending. Plus after the pause, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone will be fresh and fully healthy for Vegas and Boston’s older veterans will get some much needed extra rest for their pursuit.

Although SI went heavy on Tampa, they’re not the team I selected to win the cup. Nor to come out of the East. Here are our predictions for this year’s Stanley Cup finals.

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Playoff Participation Plan Diminishes Vegas’ First Place Finish

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Silly comments from P.K. Subban shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone around the Golden Knights. Remember this?

He knows he bit me. I’m not trying to rip his head off. I’m not that type of player… I don’t know how I walk out of there with four minutes in penalties… It wasn’t explained. They tried to apologize after the fact that they gave me four minutes in penalties. My finger is bleeding. I don’t know what you want me to do.-P.K. Subban accusing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare of biting his finger, 01/23/19

Well P.K. is back, and he’s pushing the idea of a ridiculous 31-team playoff. Subban believes the NHL should allow every club a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, including his 68 point Devils team. Contenders like the Golden Knights worked hard to position themselves for a Cup run, but none of that matters to the former Norris Trophy winner.

It was kind of floated around… I saw a few things on social media and I like that. For my team specifically, we were pushing to make the playoffs down the stretch. I would like to see our team have an opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup. I’d love too see a 31-team playoff and give those pesky Devils an opportunity of bringing the Cup back home to New Jersey. I’d love to see that. -PK Subban on ESPN

While it might sound intriguing to certain fanbases, it makes zero sense for any legitimate contender. In fact, the real losers would end up being the Golden Knights and other elite clubs. Why should they be punished for playing strong during the 71-game paused season?

The NHL is not college basketball, or even the World Cup. The Stanley Cup playoffs is not a tournament of rewarded participants, it’s a tournament of winners. So, why would Vegas, St. Louis, Boston or Tampa want to risk playing a team that has nothing to lose, and face losing to a #16th seed? They wouldn’t, and frankly, they’d be wronged if the league forced them too.

If you’re New Jersey, you’re sitting there and you say, ‘okay fair enough we realize below the cut line.’ Then you say but Montreal, sitting with 71 games 71 points. The Devils go ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, time out, we’re three points behind Montreal with two games in hand. Why would you give Montreal a chance?’ The Devils would say ‘well Montreal can’t be a part of any postseason thing because we got a better point percentage then them.’ So, I guess that’s kind of where P.K. was coming from. -Bob McKenzie

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Golden Knights Rough Patch Not Uncommon For Cup Finalists

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are currently in the midst of the worst slump in franchise history. They’ve lost eight of their last 11, five straight at home, and have gone from chasing down the top spot in the Pacific Division to looking over their shoulders to just stay in playoff position.

It’s often said (and Max Pacioretty recently said it to us) that most teams go through tough stretches. So, I decided to go back through the past 10 Stanley Cups to see if it is indeed the case.

The graph below shows the participants in the previous 10 Cup Finals with their worst losing streak, worst 10 game stretch, and where they finished in their division. The Golden Knights of this year currently have a worst losing streak of four and their worst 10 game stretch is 3-7-0.

TeamLongest StreakWorst 10Season PointsDivision Finish
17-18 WSH^L33-6-11051st
17-18 VGKL34-5-11091st
16-17 PIT^L44-3-31112nd
16-17 NSHL42-5-3944th
15-16 PIT^L52-5-31042nd
15-16 SJSL62-6-2983rd
14-15 CHI^L34-6-01023rd
14-15 TBLL23-5-21082nd
13-14 LAK^L51-8-11003rd
13-14 NYRL43-7-0962nd
12-13 CHI*^L25-5-077 *1st
12-13 BOS*L43-5-262*2nd
11-12 LAK^L52-6-2953rd
11-12 NJDL44-6-01024th
10-11 BOS^L43-4-31031st
10-11 VANL44-2-41171st
09-10 CHI^L33-5-21121st
09-10 PHIL52-8-0883rd
08-09 PIT^L52-8-0992nd
08-09 DETL53-6-11121st
*Lockout shortened season   ^Stanley Cup Champion

Four of the previous 10 Stanley Cup Champs have experienced five game losing streaks at some point during the season. Six of the previous 10 have had at least a four game losing streak.

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Stanley Cup Facts FAQ

Today, the Stanley Cup made what we hope to be one of many trips to Las Vegas over the course of the next few months. We had a chance to sit down with Keeper of the Cup, Mike Bolt to talk answer a bunch of questions about the world’s most famous trophy that were mainly sent in by you guys via social media.

How much does the Cup weigh and what is it made out of?

The Cup weighs 34.5 pounds and is made of silver and nickel alloy. It’s 35.25 inches tall.

How many Cups are there?

There are three versions of the Cup. The “Presentation Cup” is the Cup that travels and is given to the team that wins. The “Replica Cup” lives at the Hall of Fame in Toronto and serves as a stand-in when the Presentation Cup is traveling. The “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup” was donated by Lord Stanley and also lives at the Hall of Fame.

How long does the winner get to keep the Cup?

100 days is the standard but it varies depending on the season schedule and the Cup’s event schedule.

What do cities display in their arena after they win?

Replicas created by the team. They must be smaller than the actual Cup.

How many names does each team get to put on the Cup, how are they chosen, and what are the guidelines?

A total of 52 names are allowed to be engraved into the Cup. Each person must have been with the organization when the team won the Stanley Cup. The organization chooses the names and sends them to the league. There is no minimum number of games a player must play to be on there.

How is it transported?

There is a “road case” with plenty of padding that goes along with it. Due to TSA guidelines, it must be checked on airlines. There have been mishaps with the airlines but normally it checks and makes it to the next destination without any problems.

Who travels with the Cup?

One of the Keepers of the Cup is present with the Cup at all times including on each player’s “Day with the Cup.” The people who travel with it rotate.

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Marc-Andre Fleury’s Day With The Stanley Cup

It’s a long standing tradition in the NHL, each player on the Stanley Cup willing team gets a day to do whatever he pleases with the world’s best trophy. Today, new Vegas Golden Knight Marc-Andre Fleury has his day with the Cup.

https://twitter.com/keeperofthecup/status/888828556192731136

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Predicting Award Winners And When Vegas Wins Each Trophy

On Wednesday the NHL will host its annual awards show in which they hand out the league’s most coveted trophies to the best of the best hockey players in the world.

Of course, here in Vegas we are slightly more concerned about a certain announcement expected to come slightly prior to the Awards, but we thought we’d have some fun with it any way.

Right now every trophy, including the Stanley Cup (limited hours) are on display at in and around the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel. In honor of the world’s coolest trophy collection gracing our fine city we are going to predict each 2015-16 winner and then tell you when you can expect each trophy to call Las Vegas home in the future.

NHL General Manager of the Year Award
2016 – Jim Rutherford
Vegas Projection – 2018

Drafting in an expansion draft seems really tough to me. You have a list of players that are sorta tainted, even though they aren’t. It’s like day old bread, yeah it’s fine but I’m going to think before buying it. The Las Vegas GM should be applauded for any roster he puts together. And if the team competes, polish the award and hand it to Vegas.

Mark Messier Leadership Award
2016 – Jonathan Tavares
Vegas Projection – 2019

I’m giving the Vegas Captain two seasons and he’ll win the Jennings award. This is an award that players work hard for, on and off the ice. Once Las Vegas’ Captain meets up with Opportunity Village, hob nobs with Monday’s Dark, and visits all other Las Vegas charities he’ll move to the front of the line. It’ll be easy for players to get involved and give back to the community because there’s no other sports figures in town doing it.

NHL Foundation Player Award (We Literally Have No Clue What This Is Actually Awarded For)
2016 – Matt Martin
Vegas Projection – 2021

This is awarded to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community. So pretty much the last one, but somehow different. We’ll take it down in 2021. Why not.

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Double Minor With Jason Pothier – 2/9/16

The Super Bowl was awful, lucky for hockey fans, the Stanley Cup Finals can’t suck. 8 goals in one game! Toronto Sun article scares Quebecor. Jason heads to the bin to break down the week in hockey news. It’s Double Minor with Jason Pothier.

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