By Aleck Cui
EBC Las Vegas Bureau
LAS VEGAS (Eagle News) — Let’s be honest the National Hockey League (NHL) was not the most popular sport watched in Las Vegas before the Vegas Golden Knights made their home here. Who would have predicted that a sport played on ice would make it so big in the desert. But thanks to the Golden Knights, the NHL has garnered much more of a following and not just in Las Vegas but from Australia to the Philippines. Just check out twitter @NHL and you’ll see #VGKWorldwide trending.
We don’t have to paint a pretty picture about why the Vegas Golden Knights have won over the hearts of NHL fans – we’ve heard and read all about it. We know the storybook. History has been made, new NHL records have been set. VGK becomes the sixth team in NHL history to reach the Stanley Cup Finals in their first-ever trip to the postseason and third to do so in their inaugural series along with Toronto Arenas and St. Louis Blues.
And now the team has the first game of the finals not only under their belt but also with a win as the Golden Knights’ Tomas Nosek scored twice late in the game to stage a fan-pleasing comeback against the Washington Capitals. The Golden Knights beat the Washington Capitals at the T_Mobile Arena, dubbed by some as “The Fortress”, by the score of 6-4.
Both teams are highly motivated to win the coveted Stanley Cup because it will be a first for either one of them, although the Capitals did make it to the Stanley Cup once in 1998 but lost to the Detroit Red Wings.
During the Stanley Cup Final Media Day held at the T-Mobile Arena, players from both teams were asked how they felt about making it this far. No doubt both teams have highly motivated and talented players but all eyes are on Fleury and Ovechkin for sure. When Fleury was asked, “When you see Ovechkin on the left wing about to swing what goes through your mind?” Fleury answered, “You just brace the impact and know that the puck will be coming.”
Other players shared their thoughts on how they feel about making it to the Finals.
“It’s the Stanley Cup Final. You can’t really put too much pressure on yourself. You can’t think too much of what is at stake and just go out and play hockey,” said Chandler Stephenson of the Capitals.
“We surprised ourselves and a lot of other guys too,” Wiliam Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights. “But right now I’m just living in the moment and just really happy and I think we deserved to be here.”
One thing is for sure, hockey fan or not, many eyes will be glued to TVs or cellphones for the next two weeks anticipating the outcome of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. As Washington Capitals Lars Eller put it, “The excitement level is going to be on another gear.”
(Eagle News Service)