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Special Stanley Cup Final Preview Edition
The Sporting Tribune has all aspects of the Stanley Cup Final between the Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers covered. Here are our top stories heading into Game 1 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
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1. ‘Keeper of the Cup’ reflects on life with Lord Stanley’s Cup
"Keeper of the Cup" Mike Bolt has traveled the world with the Stanley Cup for 24 years and has seen it all, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Arash Markazi.
Mike Bolt smiles as he looks at his travel partner for the past 24 years resting quietly in his hotel room bed.
“You get an attachment like it’s your baby,” Bolt says. “Like it’s part of your family. We spend more time together than I do with anyone else. I’ve had girlfriends over the years but this is the best and longest relationship I’ve had in 24 years.”
Bolt gets silent and normally this might be the moment where you ask what’s wrong but it’s clear he's in a one-way relationship as he puts on his gloves and picks up his companion.
“It’s an inanimate object, it’s a trophy,” Bolt says as he holds the Stanley Cup. “I get it but we’ve traveled the world together. Do I get upset when things go wrong and something happens to the Cup? You’re damn right I do.
Me and Lord Stanley are together a lot. It’s the best winger. It never talks back and everywhere you go Stanley puts a smile on everybody’s face. Everywhere you go, people are excited to see you. I know they’re excited to see the Cup, not me, but I get to be a part of it.”
2. Emotional season for Pietrangelo ending in Cup Final
Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo suffered through an emotional start to the season when his daughter was hospitalized. Now he'll play for his second Stanley Cup title, writes The Sporting Tribune’s W.G. Ramirez.
To think, Alex Pietrangelo considered hanging up his skates in November.
Given the circumstances, nobody would have blamed him.
It was over the Thanksgiving holiday when his daughter, Evelyn, came down with the flu and eventually developed encephalitis, which created a lesion on her brain. She lost control of her motor skills, including not being able to open her eyes for the first five days.
Pietrangelo and his wife, Jayne, prayed daily while facing a horrific situation no parents deserve to go through.
"It was an emotional roller coaster for us," Pietrangelo said Friday during media day for the Stanley Cup Final. "I always tell people that was the first time I've ever even thought about coming back to play. Like, it wasn't even a question."
Again who could blame him?
Within 24 hours, his 5-year-old daughter went from being a happy little girl anticipating Christmas lights and decorations, to laying in a hospital bed, unable to talk.
3. Will McCrimmon get the last laugh?
Kelly McCrimmon helped craft the Vegas Golden Knights' roster believing it was good enough to win a Stanley Cup. He's four wins away from realizing his goal, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Steve Carp.
It’s a bit unfortunate that the finalists for the Jim Gregory Award, which the NHL gives out to the league’s top general manager at the end of the year, doesn’t include the postseason when evaluating who’s deserving of being a finalist.
If that were the case, Kelly McCrimmon’s name would have been placed into nomination.
But I’m pretty sure McCrimmon is fine that he’s not being talked about for the award, while Bill Zito, his counterpart with the Florida Panthers, is one of the three finalists along with Don Sweeney of Boston and Jim Nill of Dallas. McCrimmon would rather see his name on another trophy — the Stanley Cup. Now how’s that for vindication?
The Vegas Golden Knights’ GM has crafted a roster that will play for the Cup beginning Saturday in what will be a frenzied atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena. He hasn’t been real popular with the VGK fan base for prior transactions that saw some of the team’s most popular players get shipped out. He dealt Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Reaves and Nate Schmidt, moved on from high-scoring but oft-injured Max Pacioretty and brought in goaltender Robin Lehner, who has not even played this season after undergoing two hip surgeries and a shoulder operation.
4. Vegas’ ‘Original Six’ headed back to Stanley Cup
The Golden Knights have their own version of the "Original Six," the only six players remaining from the team's inaugural season, writes The Sporting Tribune’s W.G. Ramirez.
They're known as the Original Six, that being the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs - the teams that comprised the National Hockey League between 1942 and 1967.
At City National Arena, the Vegas Golden Knights' headquarters in Summerlin, the term "Original Six" has taken on a new meaning.
Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, William Carrier, Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb are the only six remaining members of the Golden Knights who played in the Stanley Cup Final during the franchise's inaugural season.
"It's a great feeling," Karlsson said, after the Golden Knights eliminated the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final on Monday. "You know, been in the conference final a couple of times and I made it back to the finals to make a second time now and hopefully have a better outcome. It's a great feeling."
5. Five Golden Knights stand out to win Conn Smythe
The Sporting Tribune's W.G. Ramirez outlines the five Golden Knights who stand out as Conn Smythe choices as they head into the Stanley Cup Final.
The Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers are set for the Stanley Cup Final, which gets underway Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
All eyes are on specific standout players who have helped both teams get to this point, especially the impressive run by the eighth-seeded Panthers, who got past the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes.
But our focus is on the Golden Knights, who beat the Winnipeg Jets in five games, and both the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars in six games. In the first round Vegas was favored, but the top-seeded Knights actually caught underdog prices in the second and third rounds.
So, who's been most valuable to Vegas getting into the Stanley Cup Final, and who will be the guy who continues to shine against Florida to lead the Knights to the Cup?
6. Knights’ dressing room helped foster Stanley Cup run
A dressing room where everyone gets along and likes and respects each other has helped the Vegas Golden Knights reach the Stanley Cup Final, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Steve Carp.
The brief but spirited practice in front of a packed house of maybe 800 or so at City National Arena had ended and as the Vegas Golden Knights filed into their dressing room, you could see the smiles and the glint in their eyes beyond the scruffy beards they have been growing since mid-April.
When you’re one of the last two teams remaining vying for the Stanley Cup, you’ve earned the right to laugh, chirp a little and feel good about things. I’m guessing the Florida Panthers, the last team standing in the Knights’ way, feels exactly the same, maybe even more so given they were the last team to qualify for the playoffs and needed some unexpected help to get there.
But Vegas also had more than its share of bumps along the way to playing for the Cup. Yet, they managed to find a path to overcome any calamitous moments. I mean, how mean teams used five goaltenders and lived to tell about it?
How did the Knights manage to do it?
7. Odds and Ends presented by Circa Sports
Here are some odds at Circa Sports if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:
8. Ticket Time presented by TickPick
Here are the “get in” prices for tickets if you’re thinking about going to a game today.
5:00 p.m. – Florida Panthers at Vegas Golden Knights – $485
7:00 p.m. – New York Yankees at Los Angeles Dodgers – $89
7:00 p.m. – Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres – $45
9. On the Air presented by The D Las Vegas
Here are the game times and television channels for professional teams in the region today.
1:00 p.m. – Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros – Bally Sports West
4:15 p.m. – New York Yankees at Los Angeles Dodgers – FOX
5:00 p.m. – Florida Panthers at Vegas Golden Knights – TNT, TBS
7:00 p.m. – Seattle Storm at Los Angeles Sparks – Spectrum SportsNet
7:00 p.m. – Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres – FS1
10. The Arash Markazi Show presented by The Sporting Tribune
The Sporting Tribune’s Arash Markazi is joined by Brandon Deutsch to break down the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat and what the future holds for both teams. Is this the beginning of a long run for the Nuggets and is this a one-and done run for the eighth seeded Heat?
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show presented by The Sporting Tribune on The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio in Southern California, 98.5 The Bet in Las Vegas and the Hawaii Sports Radio Network 95.1 FM and 760 AM in Hawaii. You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher.
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That’s it for today. Talk to you on Monday!