The Winnipeg Jets have done it. Against all the odds, Winnipeg are into the 2018 National Hockey League Conference Finals. Jubilant Canadian fans were left celebrating that Game 7 victory over Nashville Predators long into the night earlier this week but attention now turns to the Golden Knights. Paul Maurice’s side will want to get off to a fast start in the series and it could be a very exciting encounter.
Vegas were one of the standout teams during the 2017/18 regular season and a postseason appearance in their first full season as an organisation is some achievement. This team are on the verge of history and a Stanley Cup push this year would cement their status as one of the most talented teams in ice hockey. Check out our thoughts on the opening match of the series below…
Jets Determined To Succeed At Top Level
At the time of writing, the Jets are valued at 7/2 to win the Stanley Cup with 888Sport and it would take a brave man to back against Winnipeg on current form. That victory over the Predators has put Winnipeg well into contention for ice hockey’s ultimate prize and you won’t find too many fans writing the Jets off.
Beating Nashville will give Maurice’s men the incentive to push on and challenge for Stanley Cup glory. Supporters are excited at the prospect of winning the title this year and Winnipeg will take some stopping. On recent efforts, they have the beating of the Golden Knights and it could be a one-sided encounter. Canadian fans, it’s time to unite and get behind the Jets this weekend.
KEY MAN: Blake Wheeler. Mark Scheifele was excellent against the Predators but it is time for Blake Wheeler to re-emerge as Winnipeg’s main man. He led the team in points during the regular season and can now fire his side to the Stanley Cup series – starting with a solid impact in the opener. Wheeler has carried this Winnipeg offense at times in recent years and another big effort looks likely this weekend.
Golden Knights Know They’re In For A Tough Night
Vegas continue to defy the odds and the Golden Knights are now primed to compete for the Stanley Cup crown. Beating Winnipeg won’t be easy by any means but Vegas have the class to go toe to toe with all of their National Hockey League rivals. On paper, the Golden Knights are one of the most talented teams in the business and they will be quietly confident of pipping Winnipeg to the Finals.
As expected, the Golden Knights dispatched San Jose Sharks with one game to spare and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Vegas benefiting from the additional day of rest. The Jets struggled against the Golden Knights during the regular campaign but that was then and this is now; Winnipeg are capable of stepping up and making the most of Vegas’ weaknesses.
KEY MAN: Reilly Smith. With 11 points in the playoffs so far, Smith is joint-top of the Vegas standings. He has recorded 10 assists for his teammates and the Golden Knights will rely on his creativity to unlock the Winnipeg defensive unit.
A close affair looks likely here. Winnipeg are well placed to reach the Stanley Cup series but Vegas are no slouches and a tough contest awaits. The Jets have enough quality to put the Golden Knights to the sword and an opening game victory would be huge for momentum. If the Canadian side perform at their brilliant best, a home triumph looks likely.
JETS 3-2 GOLDEN KNIGHTS