Colorado Avalanche Fan Guide: Stanley Cup Finals Storylines

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: T.J. Oshie #77 of the Washington Capitals controls the puck against Ryan Carpenter #40 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the third period at Capital One Arena on February 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: T.J. Oshie #77 of the Washington Capitals controls the puck against Ryan Carpenter #40 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the third period at Capital One Arena on February 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche know what it feels like to appear in the Stanley Cup Finals your first year in a city. Here’s why I’m hoping Vegas doesn’t win anyway.

The Colorado Avalanche did what the Vegas Golden Knights are hoping to do — win a Stanley Cup in their first year in a city. Granted it’s the Knight’s inaugural year while the Avs moved from Quebec, but fanbase wise, it’s the same.

And I can say from experience that it would be better for the longevity of the Vegas fanbase if the Knights did not win the Stanley Cup. Their making the Finals has already damaged their fans’ ability to be loyal. How so? Let’s just say, if I had a dollar for every time a Colorado sports fan told me they don’t follow the Avs now but did back in the days of “they were good,” I’d have enough money for season tickets on the glass.

Instant gratification does not breed loyalty. When I went to Game 6 of this year’s playoffs, and saw the hordes of Avs fans heading for Pepsi Center and filling the stands, I was elated. But largely because I’d gone to so many games where the stands were partially empty and what seats were occupied were 50-50 opponent fans.

More on all that later, whichever way the Finals go. However, suffice it to say, I’m a temporary Washington Capitals fan.

Golden Knights Fairy Tale Rise

The Golden Knights have a great story. Vegas wanted the team so badly — they’d never had a professional sports team, and they wanted one to help prove Vegas residents are a legitimate community.

I can partially relate in that I fell in love with hockey before the Colorado Avalanche came to town. I still remember the euphoria of discovering Colorado was getting an NHL team again!

Credit to Las Vegans (yes, that’s what you call Vegas residents, but it’s pronounced Vay-guns), they embraced the team immediately. I can also tell you the line was around the arena even in late October just to get into the fan shop.

Yes, it’s a great story, too, how this team of misfits that other teams refused to protect in the Expansion Draft banded together for not just a successful season, but a Pacific Division-winning season. Those players showed a lot of character.

You know what else is a fantastic story? Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s been the face of the franchise since it was known he would be the goalie the Pittsburgh Penguins exposed.

And to think, the three-time Stanley Cup winner was supposedly past his prime, which is why the Penguins exposed him and not Matt Murray. Boy, isn’t it something that the supposedly washed-up goalie threw a playoff performance in three series that Patrick Roy himself wouldn’t turn his nose up at?

Isn’t it a great story that Fleury gets a chance to thumb his nose at the team that no longer believed in him? Yes, it is. You know what’s a better story? The Washington Capitals.

Washington Capitals’ Grind

More from Mile High Sticking

The Washington Capitals are not new to hockey. They’ve been in the NHL over four decades — 43 years, to be exact. This is their first appearance in the Cup Finals since 1998. Despite being around so long, and having made it to the Finals in 1998, the Capitals have never experienced Stanley Cup victory.

Boo-hoo, neither have the St. Louis Blues in their 51-year history, right? Well, since drafting Alex Ovechkin 14 years ago, the Washington Capitals have had the best record in their division five times. They’ve had the best record in the entire NHL an additional three times.

In those 13 years, (one season lost to the lockout) the Caps have made the playoffs 10 times.

Yet every year the albatross around their neck was an inability to get past the second round of the playoffs — three times because of the Pittsburgh Penguins and another time because of the Tampa Bay Lightning. They played so well, fought so hard in the regular season and came across the same brick wall every year.

Every year, the Washington Capitals were one of the best, if not the best, team through 82 games. And yet every year they failed to win an eighth game to even get them to the third round, much less the Finals.

Two of those three times that it was the Penguins knocking Washington out, Marc-Andre Fleury was that brick wall. In two out of the three series that the Washington Capitals’ dreams died in the second round because of the Penguins, Fleury was the man to hand them their death warrant with his incredible goal tending.

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals toil for years to finally get past their nemesis teams. They beat the Penguins for the first time in 20 years! They force a game seven and beat the Lightning in the third round, erasing the sting of getting swept by the Bolts in 2011. They finally get to play for the Stanley Cup, the greatest trophy in sports, which they haven’t won in over four decades of trying, to the delight of fans who’ve supported them the whole way.

The Capitals are going to overcome all of that only to get stopped by  a red-hot Marc-Andre Fleury? The same goalie who’s stonewalled them twice before? Just so that said goalie gets to thumb his nose at his former team — who did, after all, get his name on the Cup three times already? To thrill an expansion team city that understands nothing about slogging through the tough times?

No, that’s not a nice story at all.

Go, Caps, go.

Next: Avs Need Tom Wilson

Stanley Cup Details

Monday, May 28, 6 p.m. MT: Capitals @ Golden Knights | NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

Wednesday, May 30, 6 p.m. MT: Capitals @ Golden Knights | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

Saturday, June 2, 6 p.m. MT: Golden Knights @ Capitals | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

Monday, June 4, 6 p.m. MT: Golden Knights @ Capitals | NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

*Thursday, June 7, 6 p.m. MT: Capitals @ Golden Knights | NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

*Sunday, June 10, 6 p.m. MT: Golden Knights @ Capitals | NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

*Wednesday, June 13, 6 p.m. MT: Capitals @ Golden Knights | NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

*if necessary