It feels a little weird to watch hockey when it’s nice outside, doesn’t it? Only me? Aren’t we all Oilers fans because our team doesn’t make us choose between watching hockey and going outside when the weather permits it?
Well, Wednesday night was one of the first shitty weather nights that Edmonton has had in a while, and I’m actually kind of thankful, because watching the Capitals beat the Golden Knights in game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals was probably my favourite hockey-watching experience of 2018.
Part of the jubilation for the Caps’ win comes from being an Ovi fan, and a hater of the tired narrative surrounding him and the rest of the Caps, and their inability to win the big one. But, though I would be cheering for the Caps against a lot of different opponents, I’m finding myself really pulling for them over Vegas. Because, goddammit, I’m really starting to hate that Vegas team.
But why? They’re a fun, new team, that everyone else seems to love, so why do I hate them so much?
Jealousy, of course, is the answer. I’m really jealous of their team, and specifically their lucky bastard fans who get to enjoy all of it in their inaugural season. In fact, I’ve compiled a list of four real, and one fake reason why I’m so jealous of the Golden Knights.
- Their wingers are too good
Jonathan Marchessault has 94 points in 94 games since the start of the regular season, Reilly Smith has 79 points in 84 games. David Perron has 74 points in 83 games, James Neal has 54 points, including 30 goals in 88 games, and even Alex Tuch is sitting at a very respectable 46 points in 95 games since joining the Knights.
That’s not even mentioning their top two centres, William Karlsson and Erik Haula, who have scored 50 and 32 goals respectively between the regular season and playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Oilers currently have three players on their roster who produced points at a higher rate than Tuch (Vegas’ 7th highest scoring forward) in 2017-18, all of whom primarily played centre. They don’t have a true winger who would’ve cracked Vegas’ top 6 last season. Oilers fan were led to believe that we had a surplus of talent up front two years ago, and now we’re being punked by an expansion team.
2. Their blueliners are too damn mobile
If you add up the point totals of all the Oilers’ defencemen last season, you get a combined total of 129. Nurse led the way with 26. Benning, Klefbom, and Russell each had 21. Larsson had 13, and Auvitu actually cracked the top six with 9. Add the scraps in, and you get the to the lackluster total.
Meanwhile, All Golden Knights defenders combined for a total of 180. A blueline made up of players who were left unprotected by their former teams produced 40% more offence than a blueline that the Oilers’ organization has been sparing no expense to improve for years. Isn’t that a piss-off?!
3. They’re in a great cap situation
The Knights are projected to have nearly $25 Million in cap space at the end of the year. Sure, three core pieces: Colin Miller, Shea Theodore, and William Karlsson are all set to be RFAs. And, yes, veterans James Neal and David Perron are set to be UFAs. But, all three teams with more cap space than the Knights (both New York teams, and Carolina) all missed the playoffs this year. All things considered, Vegas is in a great position moving forward.
Meanwhile, the Oilers had a little over $10 Million in cap space at season’s end, despite missing the playoffs by a country mile.
4. They’ve been getting historically great goaltending
Marc-Andre Fleury is on an incredible run right now. He is currently sporting the 5th highest save percentage in playoff history, among Goalies with at least 15 starts. You give a 109-point team a historically hot stretch of goaltending in the playoffs, and this is what you get. No one may have seen it coming at the start of the year, but the Knights are terrifying to haters like myself right now.
And, while I know many Vegas bandwagoners are in love with their underdog story, consider this: They’ve been odds-on favourites (even at offshore books) for three of their four series this postseason (Winnipeg being the exception).
5. Griffin Reinhart is in their system
Move over Florida, Minnesota, and Columbus! You think the expansion draft (your own GMs, looking at Dale Tallon especially hard) screwed you guys over? Well, that’s nothing! The loss of the very real, but unfortunately named Griffin-Reinhart-in-our-system-factor cost the Oilers 25 standings points. Everyone always tells me that the 2016-17 Oilers and the 2017-18 were exactly the same. “Yes”, I say “except for Mr. 25 standings points, himself, Griffin Reinhart”. Damn you, George McPhee!
So, there you have it. Five reasons, four of which are real, that I am jealous of, and therefore hate the Vegas Golden Knights. Game 3 is tomorrow night, and my god, will I ever be cheering hard for the Caps. Jealousy may not be a good look, but from an Oilers fan’s perspective, it’s definitely understandable.