Capitals vs. Golden Knights: PHT predicts 2018 Stanley Cup Final

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The 2018 Stanley Cup Final is here and as we await puck drop on Game 1, let’s finish things off with one last round of predictions. Both teams have some great storylines to make the championship DVD pretty memorable, but only one gets to spend their summer partying with the Cup.

Here’s who we think will be victorious between the Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals.

Sean: Golden Knights in 6

No matter who wins this series, there’s going to be a great story to come out of it. But the bigger story will be the unthinkable ending to the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural season, which will end with a Stanley Cup title. #CupIn1 they said after some early-season success. It soon blossomed into long-term success and as they’ve carved up the Western Conference en route to the final round, the magical ride will have a happy ending. Marc-Andre Fleury will win the Conn Smythe, no matter how this series ends, and Vegas has found a way to stifle some good offenses in San Jose and Winnipeg. It’s all come together, and they face a formidable, and inspired Washington Capitals team, but timely scoring and Fleury’s goaltending will ultimately be the difference.

James: Capitals in 6 

What better way for the Capitals to complete this cathartic and unexpected Year of Exorcism than by defeating a goalie who has tormented them (Marc-Andre Fleury) and the GM who built their foundation (George McPhee)? To complete the picture, it needs to happen on home ice, where the fans can celebrate far beyond the Metro’s hours of operations.

Adam: Capitals in 6

Every round I keep thinking that this is going to be the round where somebody gets Vegas. This is going to be the round. Sometimes you just get a feel for a team that they are going to win a championship, like it is their year, and that is the feeling I get with the Capitals. Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby are playing great, everything is going their way, this is the year. I also think that for as great as Marc-Andre Fleury has played he is probably due to have a couple of bad games. Nobody is this perfect for this long, right?

Joey: Capitals in 6

The Golden Knights have been a great story, but it feels like this is the Capitals’ year. Ovechkin has been playing well, Kuznetsov has been rolling, Braden Holtby is rounding in to form and they even won games without Nicklas Backstrom. They’re deeper down the middle and better on defense. There is no Ovechkin or John Carlson on the Vegas roster, so advantage Caps. 

Scott: Golden Knights in 6

You take a goaltender who is nearly unbeatable in the playoffs and mesh that with a team who seems to laugh at odds and math and pundits and history and you have yourself a Stanley Cup champion. The Golden Knights knocked off a Jets team that scored in abundance prior to them meeting in the Western Conference Final. Fleury was simply sensational against the team that scored the second most goals in the NHL this season. There’s no indication he can’t do the same against a team that was in the middle of the pack. The stakes are higher than ever, and I don’t think anyone in Vegas cares.

2018 STANLEY CUP FINAL PREVIEW
• Who has the better forwards?
Who has better defense?
Who has better goaltending?
• Who has better special teams?

• Who has better coaching?
• How Golden Knights were built
• How Capitals were built

MORE:
• NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub
• Stanley Cup Final Schedule

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.