First things first, let's start off by recognizing and appreciating the Florida Panthers. What an amazing story they wrote this year. The 2022-23 Panthers followed an underdog script the likes of which you can only see in movies and television.
Matt Tkahuk playing through a broken sternum, Aaron Ekblad playing with a broken foot, two shoulder dislocations and a torn oblique, Brandon Montour with a torn labrum, and Eetu Luostarinen with a broken tibia shows just how much winning the Stanley Cup means to these athletes.
But now, it's time to get down to the real party. Vegas, cherish this one. It took you only 6 years to achieve what some fans wait an entire lifetime to see.
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Much like the Florida Panthers, the Vegas Golden Knights know what it's like to be in the underdog role. After losing the Stanley Cup in 2018 to the Washington Capitals, and missing out on the playoffs entirely last year, Vegas had enough and decided it was time to win the whole damn thing.
The Golden Knights' offensive arsenal proved to be a formidable force throughout the postseason. With forwards Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, and Jonathan Marchessault leading the charge, the team showcased an impressive blend of skill, speed, and creativity. Their ability to generate scoring opportunities and capitalize on them played a pivotal role in securing victory after victory.
In the final game of the series, Vegas delivered a performance that will forever be etched into the memories of their fans. The atmosphere was electric as the team executed flawlessly, winning with a final tally of 9-3, combining offensive prowess with staunch defensive play.
Mark Stone scored his 9th, 10th and 11th goals of the postseason during Game 5, while Nick Hague, Alec Martinez, Reilly Smith, Michael Amadio, Ivan Barbashev, and Nicolas Roy also found the back of the net.
Although he didn't score a goal in Game 5, Jonathan Marchessault did notch an assist on a Nick Hague goal, and went on to secure himself the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP, putting up 25 points on 13 goals and 12 assists.
Jack Eichel became the first $10M+ player in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup, it was also his first ever playoff appearance. After years of playing second fiddle to Connor McDavid, and after his polarizing rise and fall with the Buffalo Sabres that turned many people sour toward him, this one must feel especially great for Eichel.
You know who else this Stanley Cup must feel extra special to? Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Erik Karlsson, William Carrier, Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore. All original Golden Knights, all selected during the 2017 expansion draft, and all now have their names forever etched on the Stanley Cup right next to the city of Vegas.
Also, the hot dog king Phil Kessel won his third Stanley Cup.
Congratulations to the 2022-23 Vegas Golden Knights! I'm sure the party in Sin City will be one for the ages.
A bitter sweet feeling, but we'll see you folks again in October.