Amusing how the sporting world works out sometimes. "They get built up when they win and they get torn down a little bit when they lose". Both players were named to the series all-star team. And they turned out to be real good players.
Now, at 59 years of age, the old friends are foes.
"With the Vegas Golden Knights poised to host Game 1 of their series against Washington on Monday, the City of Las Vegas is going all in against the Capitals' online rallying cry of "#ALLCAPS". But with McPhee's fingerprints on almost 75 percent of the players in this series, it's especially fun to look back on how each team came together using their expected rosters.
"It's amusing how life goes", McPhee said Sunday in Las Vegas. We were put on a huge platform that was unexpected that very first night to have a ceremony and to get it right. The long break before the opener might hurt him, since goalies don't tend to like time off. We had dinner. It's sort of gone this way, and hard to believe, but we'll enjoy it. But the Capitals trail as +115 underdogs on the National Hockey League futures in their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final since 1998. MacLellan worked his way through the ranks, became assistant GM and replaced McPhee when he was sacked three seasons ago.
"The trades and the deals that he made were to win the Stanley Cup that year", Beagle said.
"I couldn't be happier to be (in it), especially here in Vegas with the group of guys we have". It's a little awkward, but it's going to be a fun experience. The Capitals are 8-2 away from home this postseason.
Nothing stokes the intensity before a Stanley Cup Final like an all-out grammar war. Vegas has written a story for the ages with its remarkable run as an expansion team. He's keeping a sense of humor about this momentous trip: With a straight face Sunday, Ovechkin said Russian President Vladimir Putin had called him to wish him luck, before adding: "I'm just joking". For others, it began when Foley announced the team would be called the Golden Knights and started selling season tickets.
Then there's Washington, the perennial Stanley Cup favourite that failed time and again to reach the Eastern Conference final in the career of superstar captain Alex Ovechkin. The goalkeeper's.947 save percentage through 15 playoffs games is now a hair better than Jonathan Quick's 2011-12 mark when the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup and Quick was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy. Karlsson had 43 goals during the regular season. Luc Robitaille and Dave Andreychuk were the first two, with the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings and 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively. Upon orchestrating an expansion draft that has become a case study for tactful, opportunistic management, McPhee might be the first GM in professional sports to have influenced two competing championship finalists so heavily. There have been only five players who won the Conn Smythe Trophy in a losing effort.
In the playoffs, Ovechkin has raised his game even further.
Several key members of the Golden Knights are no strangers to Holtby, including general manager George McPhee, goalie coach Dave Prior and defenseman Nate Schmidt, a trio that have been a part of the Capitals organization during their careers. After finally breaking into the NHL after serving a long minor league apprenticeship, he played four seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Capitals have seven Canadians (Holtby, Wilson, Stephenson, Smith-Pelly, Beagle, Connolly, Chiasson).
"There were a lot of people doubting that he still had what it took", Capitals head coach Barry Trotz told the Washington Post about Ovechkin. The Golden Knights posted a 3-0 win as -127 home chalk on December 23, and followed up with a 4-3 victory in Washington as +102 underdogs on February 4. Gallant steered the 2010-11 Saint John Sea Dogs to a Memorial Cup championship.
It wasn't just rhetoric when Engelland spoke of dreaming about playing for Lord Stanley's Cup as a schoolboy.
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