2018 Stanley Cup Final

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NBCSN’s Stanley Cup Final Week: Holtby’s save, Vegas’ pre-game theatrics

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NBC Sports presents Stanley Cup Final Week on NBCSN, reliving classic Stanley Cup Final games and original films and shows from the past decade across seven nights. Today, we give our memories from the the 2018 Cup Final between the Golden Knights and Capitals.

JAMES: Injuries are murky even heading into the most mundane game. Try shaking loose many specifics from NHL coaches, even if it’s the dog days of the season in January, or some exhibition in September.

Also, let’s face it; players don’t want to be seen as making excuses.

So, I’m not sure we will fully know how much Tom Wilson‘s borderline hit late in Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final affected Jonathan Marchessault. Honestly, if there’s one thing I feel pretty confident about, it’s that Wilson deserved to sit out at least a game or two. It was bad:

The first-year Golden Knights relied heavily on Marchessault, and you could see him creating chances, as I argued during the series.

But no doubt, those chances weren’t going in. Marchessault generated eight goals and 18 points through the 15 games it took to get Vegas to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, leading the Golden Knights in scoring up to that point. Marchessault failed to score a goal during that series against the Capitals, settling for three assists as Vegas lost in five games.

Maybe the Capitals just clamped down and/or Braden Holtby shut the door. Perhaps Marchessault simply ran out of gas.

Ultimately, I’ll always wonder if that series might have gone differently if that Wilson hit didn’t happen.

SEAN: After an unforgettable first NHL season, you knew Las Vegas wasn’t going to disappoint when it came to hosting the Cup Final. Game 1 saw a Lil Jon concert outside of T-Mobile Arena followed by a marching band parade leading into the rink, showgirls surrounding the lower bowl during warmups and then a fantastic game. All of that built up to another edition of the greatest pre-game show in the league:

[FULL NBCSN STANLEY CUP WEEK SCHEDULE]

JAKE: After Vegas won a wild, back-and-forth Game 1 that saw a Cup Final-record four lead changes, Washington spent the majority of Game 2 in the lead as they looked to even the series.

Up by one goal with two minutes to go, the Capitals were out of position following an unlucky bounce in their own zone. Out of nowhere, Vegas had a point-blank chance to tie the game. Unfortunately for Alex Tuch, the paddle of Braden Holtby’s stick was in the perfect place.

“The Save” kept the game from going to overtime, as the Caps held on to even the series. They went on to win the next three games to claim their first-ever Stanley Cup.

If Tuch converts on that chance to tie the game, would history be any different?

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NBC Sports presents Stanley Cup Final Week on NBCSN, reliving classic Stanley Cup Final games and original films and shows from the past decade across seven nights, beginning on Monday, June 8.

Programming will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Saturday, June 12 on NBCSN
• 2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 1: Washington vs. Vegas – 8 p.m. ET
• 2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 5: Washington vs. Vegas – 9:30 p.m. ET
• 2018 Washington Capitals Championship Film – 11 p.m. ET
• 2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 5: Washington vs. Vegas – 1 a.m. ET
• Gamechangers: Knight Fever – 2:30 a.m. ET

NBCSN’s Stanley Cup Final Week schedule: June 8-14

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NBC Sports presents Stanley Cup Final Week on NBCSN, reliving classic Stanley Cup Final games and original films and shows from the past decade across seven nights, beginning on Monday, June 8.

The memorable Stanley Cup broadcasts include the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues’ inaugural championships the past two seasons, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins victory in 2009, the Chicago Blackhawks’ wins in 2010 and 2013, as well as the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings Cup wins in 2011 and 2014, respectively.

Kathryn Tappen and Liam McHugh will introduce matchups throughout the week. Saturday and Sunday’s Stanley Cup clinching broadcasts will feature new commentary from actor and Blues fan Jon Hamm, 12-year-old Blues super-fan Laila Anderson and Capitals forward Lars Eller, who scored the 2018 Stanley Cup winning goal.

Below is each night’s highlighted Stanley Cup Final Week content:

• Monday, June 8: 2009 Stanley Cup Final
• Tuesday, June 9: 2010 Stanley Cup Final
• Wednesday, June 10: 2011 Stanley Cup Final
• Thursday, June 11: 2013 Stanley Cup Final
• Friday, June 12: 2014 Stanley Cup Final
• Saturday, June 13: 2018 Stanley Cup Final
• Sunday, June 14: 2019 Stanley Cup Final

Programming will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

MONDAY, JUNE 8 – 2009 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
The opening night of Stanley Cup Final Week features Game 2, 6 and 7 from the 2009 Stanley Cup Final that was won by Sidney Crosby and the PPenguins, after rallying from 2-0 and 3-2 series deficits, against the Red Wings. Evgeni Malkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy in this rematch of the 2008 Cup Final, which was won by the Red Wings.

Kathryn Tappen will introduce the opening night.

• NHL Hat Trick Trivia Hosted by P.K. Subban (Episode 3) – 5 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final Game 2: Pittsburgh vs. Detroit – 5:30 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Detroit vs. Pittsburgh – 7 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: Pittsburgh vs. Detroit – 9 p.m. ET
• 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins Championship Film – 11 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: Pittsburgh vs. Detroit – 12:30 a.m. ET
• Gamechangers: All-Time Greats 2:30 a.m. ET

TUESDAY, JUNE 9 – 2010 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
On the tenth anniversary of the Blackhawks clinching Game 6 to win the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, Games 1, 3 and 6 of the Cup Final between the Flyers and Blackhawks highlight NBCSN’s coverage on Tuesday. In overtime of Game 6, the Blackhawks won the Cup, ending their championship drought, which was the longest active streak in the NHL at the time. Jonathan Toews won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Liam McHugh will host Tuesday’s coverage.

• Who Wore It Best? (Episode 4) 5 p.m. NBCSN
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 1: Philadelphia vs. Chicago – 5:30 p.m. ET
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 3: Chicago vs. Philadelphia – 7 p.m. ET
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Chicago vs. Philadelphia – 9 p.m. ET
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 3: Chicago vs. Philadelphia – 11 p.m. ET
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Chicago vs. Philadelphia – 1 a.m. ET

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10 – 2011 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
On Wednesday, NBCSN will present Game 6 and 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Canucks. Behind a 4-0 shutout win in Game 7, the Bruins ended a 39-year Stanley Cup drought with the victory. Boston goaltender Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Tappen will host Stanley Cup Final Week on Wednesday.

• Skates & Plates – 4 p.m. ET
• 2011 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Vancouver vs. Boston – 4:30 p.m. ET
• 2011 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: Boston vs. Vancouver – 10 p.m. ET
• 2011 Boston Bruins Championship Film – 11:30 p.m. ET
• 2011 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: Boston vs. Vancouver – 1 a.m. ET
• Top 10: All-Time Records – 2:30 a.m. ET

THURSDAY, JUNE 11 – 2013 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
Three matchups from the 2013 Cup Final (Games 2, 4 and 6) between the Blackhawks and Bruins will be featured Thursday. Chicago won the championship in a thrilling last-minute comeback in Game 6, claiming their second Cup win in four years after also winning the title in 2010. Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks won MVP.

McHugh will introduce coverage on Thursday night.

• 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 2: Boston vs. Chicago – 5 p.m. ET
• 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 4: Chicago vs. Boston – 7 p.m. ET
• 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Chicago vs. Boston – 9 p.m. ET
• 2013 Chicago Blackhawks Championship Film – 11 p.m. ET
• 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Chicago vs. Boston – 12:30 a.m. ET
• Gamechangers: All-Time Greats – 2:30 a.m. ET

FRIDAY, JUNE 12 – 2014 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
NBCSN presents the Kings victory in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against the Rangers on Friday. Los Angeles’ double-overtime victory in Game 2 will be followed by another double-overtime thriller in Game 5, as Alec Martinez of the Kings clinched their second Cup in three years following the franchise’s first-ever championship in 2012. The Kings’ Justin Williams won MVP.

On Friday, Tappen will host coverage of the 2014 Cup Final broadcasts.

• 2014 Stanley Cup Final Game 2: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles – 8 p.m. ET
• 2014 Stanley Cup Final Game 5: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles – 9:30 p.m. ET
• 2014 Los Angeles Kings Championship Film – 11 p.m. ET

SATURDAY, JUNE 13 – 2018 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
Saturday kicks off back-to-back nights highlighting franchises’ winning their first-ever Cup, beginning with the Capitals in 2018. Facing the expansion Golden Knights, Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals rallied from a Game 1 loss to win four straight and capture Washington’s inaugural title. Ovechkin was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

McHugh will introduce Saturday’s coverage and be joined by Capitals forward Lars Eller, who scored the Cup winning goal, during the Game 5 broadcast.

• 2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 1: Washington vs. Vegas – 8 p.m. ET
• 2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 5: Washington vs. Vegas – 9:30 p.m. ET
• 2018 Washington Capitals Championship Film – 11 p.m. ET
• 2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 5: Washington vs. Vegas – 1 a.m. ET
• Gamechangers: Knight Fever – 2:30 a.m. ET

SUNDAY, JUNE 14 – 2019 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
The concluding night of Stanley Cup Final Week highlights last year’s historic Stanley Cup Final between the Blues and Bruins. The deciding Game 7, won by the Blues, capped the team’s memorable turnaround from last place in the NHL standings in January, to the franchise’s first-ever Cup. Ryan O’Reilly won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Tappen will host the concluding night of Stanley Cup Final Week and be joined by actor Jon Hamm and Blues super-fan Laila Anderson during the presentation of Game 7.

• 2019 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: St. Louis vs. Boston – 10 p.m. ET
• 2019 St. Louis Blues Championship Film – 11:30 p.m. ET
• 2019 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: St. Louis vs. Boston – 12:30 a.m. ET
• #HockeyAtHome: 2019 St. Louis Blues Virtual Reunion – 2 a.m. ET
• Top 10: Stanley Cup Moments – 2:30 a.m. ET

NBCSN’s Hockey Happy Hour: Golden Knights win first-ever Stanley Cup Final game

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This week’s Hockey Happy Hour on NBCSN (5-7 p.m. ET) will feature four notable milestone and record performances.

Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final marked the first-ever Stanley Cup appearance for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The high scoring affair featured a Cup-record four lead changes throughout the game. Behind two goals by Tomas Nosek, the Golden Knights won their first-ever Stanley Cup game, 6-4.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire called the Stanley Cup matchup from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Tuesday, May 19 on NBCSN
NHL’s Who Wore It Best? (Episode 1) – 5 p.m. ET (Live stream)
• Capitals vs. Golden Knights (2018 Stanley Cup Final, Game 1) – 5:30 p.m. ET (Live stream)

Wednesday, May 20 on NBCSN
#HockeyAtHome: Meet & Greet – 5 p.m. ET (Live stream)
• Stars vs. Canucks (2007 Round 2, Game 1) – 5:30 p.m. ET (Live stream)

Thursday, May 21 on NBCSN
NHL Player Gaming Challenge – 5 p.m. ET (Live stream)
• Lightning vs. Blue Jackets (2019 Round 1, Game 4) – 6 p.m. ET (Live stream)

Saturday, May 23 on NBC
• 2014 Olympics Men’s Preliminary Round: USA vs. Russia – 3 p.m. ET

NHL’S WHO WORE IT BEST? – TUES., 5 P.M. ET, NBCSN
NHL’s Who Wore It Best? will feature hockey writers, broadcasters and insiders debating the best players to wear each jersey number in NHL history. The five-week series will air on NBCSN every Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET. The premiere episode features NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire who takes part in debating the following jersey numbers: 92, 91, 88, 81 and 77.

#HOCKEYATHOME: MEET & GREET – WEDS., 5 P.M. ET, NBCSN
NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen will co-host a 30-minute program that features Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl and Torey Krug of the Bruins meeting fans virtually during the league’s hiatus in a memorable digital experience.

NHL PLAYER GAMING CHALLENGE – THURS., 5 P.M. ET, NBCSN
NBCSN will present the final broadcast of the NHL Player Gaming Challenge at 5 p.m. ET, between Philadelphia vs. Toronto. The competition features James van Riemsdyk representing the Flyers against Zach Hyman of the Maple Leafs. The month-long initiative pit NHL players from all 31 clubs facing off against each other in EA Sports NHL 20.

Following the hour-long program at 5 p.m. ET, a matchup between Thatcher Demko and Adam Gaudette of the Canucks and Ryan Reaves and Alex Tuch of the Golden Knights will be available on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and the NBC Sports YouTube channel.

TEAM USA-RUSSIA (2014 OLYMPICS) – SAT., 3 P.M. ET, NBC
Team USA and Russia faced off in the preliminary round at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Tied at two, the Americans selected forward T.J. Oshie to participate in six shootout attempts, including the shootout-winner in the eighth round.

Emrick, Olczyk and McGuire called the preliminary round game in Sochi. The 3-2 Team USA shootout victory ranked as NBCSN’s most watched hockey game ever at the time.

The enhanced presentation of this matchup will feature NBC Sports’ Liam McHugh interview with shootout hero Oshie about his memories on the historic game. NBC’s broadcast will also feature a special Memorial Day essay penned by Emrick.

Programming will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Happy Hour can be found here.

Stanley Cup clinchers on NBCSN: Capitals end championship drought

Hockey Week in America continues Thursday with some notable Stanley Cup clinchers.

This series pitted the expansion Golden Knights in their first season facing the Capitals, who were trying to end their infamous championship drought. Behind a goal from Alex Ovechkin, and the Cup-clinching goal from Lars Eller, the Capitals overcame a third period deficit to beat the Golden Knights 4-3 to win their first-ever Stanley Cup. Ovechkin was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

You can watch the Ovechkin and the Capitals finally capturing the Cup and more Stanley Cup clinchers Thursday night on NBCSN beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

THURSDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Capitals vs. Golden Knights (Game 5, 2018 Stanley Cup Final) – 9 p.m. ET
• Penguins vs. Red Wings (Game 7, 2009 Stanley Cup Final) – 11 p.m. ET
• Blackhawks vs. Flyers (Game 6, 2010 Stanley Cup Final) – 1 a.m. ET

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Since losing ’18 Cup Final, Golden Knights look more like Caps

Almost 18 months since the Vegas Golden Knights’ improbable inaugural season ended, they look much more like the team that vanquished them in the Stanley Cup Final.

If you can’t beat ’em, be more like ’em.

Once a ragtag group relying on more will than skill, Vegas is beginning to resemble the Washington Capitals they faced in the 2018 final. The Golden Knights don’t have carbon copies of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom, but they added some serious skill in forwards Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone and could easily follow the Capitals’ championship model.

“They’ve done a great job,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. “I think they’ve added another layer. I thought when we beat them, we were a little bit deeper team, especially up front. Then adding Stone, adding Pacioretty, signing Stastny – those are three really good players, so they have a whole new layer of offensive, really solid players on their team. In theory, I think they’re a better team than they were.”

The Golden Knights who went to the final in their expansion season had a first line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith and leaned heaviest on defensemen Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore and Deryk Engelland. All those players remain but have the pressures eased off them, given internal promotions and external additions.

Forward William Carrier, one of more than a dozen players left from the 2018 final, said this is a better team.

“Right now, we’re a more talented team,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “It’s a different team. We’re a more skilled team than we were back then. But back then we had that air about (us) – we were the hardest working team in the league. I want us to get back to that. We were a fast team, we were a quick team that first year and everything went our way. We had a lot of puck luck and a lot of good things that happened that first year.”

Those good things stopped when the Capitals wore down the Golden Knights with their depth and won the series in five games. Then, last spring, Vegas got knocked out in the first round when a blown call in Game 7 against San Jose snowballed into a disastrous third period.

Bouncing back from two tough playoff exits is another lesson the Golden Knights can learn from the Capitals, who kept getting stopped in the second round or earlier before breaking through and winning it all.

“We’ve had some disappointments,” said Kelly McCrimmon, who took over for George McPhee as Knights GM last summer. “That’s your ultimate opportunity to evaluate and to learn and to assess where you need to be better. … There’s things you need to do to get you to the playoffs, there’s things you need to do to get you through the playoffs. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been a playoff team both years, we’ve gained that experience.”

Capitals winger Tom Wilson looks at Vegas as a team built for the playoffs because of its size, skill and toughness. It’s almost like gazing into a mirror.

“They have a really stable team – they can establish all four lines and roll,” Washington’s Jakub Vrana said. “They play hard, and they work hard for every inch of the ice. That’s what’s been winning them games. We do the same thing.”

Blending the work ethic and the grittiness that got Vegas into the final with the talent that could get it over the top is now the challenge. Gallant doesn’t shy away from the comparison to the Capitals, who perfected that mix.

“The work comes before the skill, and when you get your talented guys and your skilled guys working real hard, then that’s when you’re going to have the right team,” Gallant said. “I think the team in Washington, that’s what they do. They’ve got some real talented hockey players, but when they work hard, they’re a great team.”

The next stage in becoming a consistently great team is integrating homegrown players, like Cody Glass and Nicolas Hague, who were picks from the Golden Knights’ first draft in 2017. Vegas is at the salary cap like the NHL’s best teams and isn’t afraid of the big expectations that come with that.

“We don’t feel or act or believe we’re an expansion team,” McCrimmon said. “We’re in Year 3 as a franchise, and like every other team, always trying to get better, always trying to win more games, always trying to be a playoff team and have success.”

FIRST TIMER

Lifelong Maple Leafs fan Ron Ruckstuhl, 52, was diagnosed with Lewy dody disease three years ago and told he had five to seven years to live. In August, son Joshuah sent a tweet to retired NHLer Paul Bissonnette hoping his dad could attend a game in Toronto for the first time.

“I’ve waited 52 years for something like this,” Ron said.

As part of the “NHL First Timer” video series, the league surprised Ruckstuhl at his house earlier this month and took him and sons Joshuah and Ryan to the Leafs’ game Nov. 5 against Los Angeles.

“I’d never seen my dad smile and laugh (like that),” said Joshuah, 28, who is his father’s full-time caregiver. “For a little bit, you didn’t realize he was sick. You could see him forget about being sick for just a little bit.”

The league is releasing video of the occasion Wednesday to mark World Kindness Day.

“This is what it’s all about,” NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer said. “To be able to put joy in somebody’s life like Ron’s and to be able to show his story to the world is quite an honor and it makes me proud to be a part of the NHL.”

NO LONE WOLF

Phil Kessel is fitting in just fine with the young Arizona Coyotes and has come a long way from playing in the shadow of – and winning two titles with – Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin in Pittsburgh.

“He fed off those guys in Pittsburgh really well,” said coach Rick Tocchet, who also was an assistant with the Penguins. “Sometimes he was under the radar, and he’d come up with some big goals because (opponents focused on) Malkin or Crosby. Now there’s a little bit more focus on him.”

Tocchet said Kessel has done more leading because he recognizes, at 32, he should. It’s working.

“Phil, the young guys love him and he’s taking pressure off guys,” Tocchet said. “When some guys aren’t scoring, to be honest with you, the media are not on the guy as much because Phil takes that pressure off. So he does take the pressure or the burden off some guys if they’re not scoring.”