LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Here's hoping the fourth time's a charm!
The Vegas Golden Knights have experienced heartbreak in each of the team's first three trips to the postseason, but they're hoping this is the year they capture the cup.
The Knights were arguably the best team in the NHL for most of the season but still finished second in their division. That's earned them a first-round matchup with the Minnesota Wild, setting up a tough road to the Stanley Cup Finals.
"They had a heck of a year," said Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights general manager. "They played us really hard."
"They play a really direct game," he said. "They've got a really good defense. Offensively, it's real balance. They've had some young players emerge and take a step. I think we have as well."
"Those are all things we're going to sort out in the next couple of weeks."
In the franchise's fourth season, the Vegas Golden Knights allowed the fewest goals in the league and had the second-best point percentage.
But the Knights get no breaks, drawing the Minnesota Wild in the first round, a team they went 3-4-1 against in the regular season. The Wild were the only team the Knights had a losing record against.
Still, McCrimmon is confident his guys will get the job done if they play to their potential.
"Our confidence level is real good if we play real good," said McCrimmon. "I feel that our team, if it plays well, can play with anybody in the National Hockey League. I also know at playoff time, if you're less than that, then that won't get it done."
Fans like Alyce Wheeler are ready to play their part, filling the Fortress at 50% to start, and providing the playoff home-ice advantage the Knights haven't had in nearly two years.
"I'm excited to beat the Wild because I know everybody was super worried the Wild," said Wheeler.
"It's going to be loud. Once that [crowd] comes back, it's going to be all regular VGK maniac noise. And there's noise for every little thing and the players are used to it. They're used to hearing, 'Knights!' There's nothing like playoff hockey. It's a whole 'nother level," said Wheeler.
Depending on which sportsbook you go to, the Knights have either the best or second-best odds to lift the Stanley Cup this year, behind only the Colorado Avalanche.
Puck drop for game one is set for Sunday at noon at T-Mobile Arena.