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Las Vegas Golden Knights: A True NHL Cinderella Story

Brian Krummenacker, Writer

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The Las Vegas Golden Knights, a first-year team based out of Sin City, have just won their fourth playoff game, completing the sweep of four games of the Las Angeles Kings. In their inaugural season, the Golden Knights have already broken multiple records, including their newest record of being the first expansion team to win both their first playoff series as well as completing their first playoff sweep in their first playoffs. 

Even though the Los Angeles Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick had a save percentage of .947 in the four games, it was simply not good enough as he allowed seven goals in four games. This is compared to Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury who had a save percentage of .977, letting in only three goals in the four games, shutting out LA in two out of the four games. The 33-year old veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has had the best year of his career after being claimed in the expansion draft from the Pittsburgh Penguins, who chose not to add him to their list of protected players. Although he only played in 46 games due to an early injury, including a concussion and another undisclosed injury, he still managed to play better in this playoff series then he has all year. The biggest surprise from this team, however, is the team itself.

The Vegas team consists of 31 players that were unwanted and salary cap casualties by the teams they were a part of and were instead, claimed in the expansion draft. The expansion draft is a draft that only occurs when a new NHL team is created, making it easier for the team to acquire NHL-caliber players. In the draft, the other thirty-one NHL teams must create a list of players they would like to protect from the expansion team. Unable to protect all the players, however, the teams are given the option to either protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goaltender, or one goaltender and eight skaters regardless of position. From the remaining pool of players, the expansion team can then select players to round out their own roster (where, in some cases, the original team can then “pull back” and protect players if they are selected by the expansion club.) Using this format, it is no surprise that expansion teams often struggle in their inaugural season. But not the Vegas Golden Knights. 

Even with a selection of only seemingly unwanted players, it is unanimously agreed that Las Vegas has had the best season ever for an expansion team, shattering several records, including the record for points by an expansion franchise with 84 and most wins by a team in an inaugural season. Before playing their first Stanley Cup playoff game, Vegas was estimated to have 200-1 odds of taking the title. After four playoff games however, the Golden Knights are now tied with the Nashville Predators for being the favorite to win with 4-1 odds.

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Las Vegas Golden Knights: A True NHL Cinderella Story