Vegas Golden Knights (59-25-5-3) vs. Winnipeg Jets (60-23-9-2)
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, May 12, 2018
Where: Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Knights Make History Again
After breaking almost every record there is for an NHL inaugural team this season, during which they finished at the top of the Pacific Division, the Vegas Golden Knights (8-2) made history once again, becoming just the third side to win more than one NHL playoff series in its first year of existence (after the Toronto Arenas in 1918 and the St. Louis Blues in 1968) following a 4-2 series triumph against the San Jose Sharks in their Western Conference Semifinals matchup. To get to the Conference Finals, the Knights needed just eight victories from their first 10 postseason outings (the best record in NHL history), with Jonathan Marchessault (4 goals, 7 assists during the current playoffs) and Reilly Smith (1 goal, 10 assists) leading the team with 11 postseason points each.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is entering West’s Finals, having gone 8-2 for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 1.53 GAA, a .951 save percentage and four (!) shutouts, giving him 14 career postseason blankings, thus tying him with Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek and Jacques Plante for 5th place in NHL history. Fleury has gone 70-53 in all previous playoff outings combined with a 2.55 GAA and a .912 save percentage and is 21-5-0 against the Winnipeg Jets historically with a 2.33 GAA and a .917 save percentage. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, are netting the 9th highest number of goals per game this postseason (2.90), while giving up the absolute lowest quantity defensively (1.70). They are 10th in power play with a 17.5% conversion rate and 2nd best in penalty kill with 85.0% proficiency.
Jets Get To First Conference Final
Just like Vegas, the Winnipeg Jets (8-4) will also be playing in their first ever Western Conference Finals after beating the Nashville Predators in seven games during the Second Round, clinching the series win with a 5-1 victory in Game 7 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday. Previously, the Atlanta Thrashers were eliminated during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 2007 by the New York Rangers (4-0), while the Jets went also without a victory in their First Round matchup against the Anaheim Ducks in 2015 (4-0). Mark Scheifele (16 points for the current postseason), who leads the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 11 goals, netted twice on Thursday, collecting seven road strikes against the Predators, setting a new postseason record for a single series.
Enjoying his first ever playoff campaign, goalie Connor Hellebuyck is coming into the Western Conference Finals with a 8-4 record so far on top of a 2.24 GAA and a .927 save percentage, having registered two shutouts along the way as well. He has recorded a 1-1-1 tally against the Golden Knights during the regular season with a 4.40 GAA and a .857 save percentage and has posted a 20-12-2 career total versus the Pacific Division with a 2.57 GAA and a .914 save percentage. The Jets, meanwhile, are scoring the absolute highest quantity of goals per game during the ongoing playoffs (3.58), while conceding the 3rd lowest amount defensively (2.33). They are 5th in power play with a 25.0% success rate and 10th in penalty kill with 74.2% efficiency.
- Jets are 6-1 in their last 7 Saturday games.
- Jets are 42-11 in their last 53 home games.
- Jets are 7-3 in their last 10 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
The Jets have gone 4-2 on own ice during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but have lost the very last two domestic fixtures. Still, their regular-season record at Bell MTS Place was the best one among all NHL teams (32-7-2), so don’t expect the Golden Knights to have an easy night here, despite Vegas having won four of its five away fixtures this postseason, shutting the opposition out in two of them. During the regular campaign, the Knights failed to record a regulation victory in Winnipeg, losing their first visit 7-4, while snatching a 3-2 overtime triumph in the second, so pick the Jets to open this series convincingly. Especially riding high on emotions after their thrilling win in Nashville just two days prior