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Who would have thought back in October that the expansion Vegas Golden Knights would be in the Western Conference Finals? I sure didn’t. In fact, I expected them to miss the playoffs. So to see them at this point is a nice surprise for the NHL.

The Jets are somewhat of a surprise themselves. When the season started you might not have had them in the playoffs. Surely not in the Conference Finals. But the emergence of Conor Hellebuyck has been a Godsend for the Jets.

Season Series

The Golden Knights took two of the three games in the season series earning four of a possible six points. Whereas the Jets lost two of three games but one of those losses came in overtime meaning they captured three of a possible six points.

Query Results Table
Rk Date Tm Opp
1 2018-02-01 WPG VEG 2-3 L OT
2 2017-12-01 WPG VEG 7-4 W
3 2017-11-10 WPG @ VEG 2-5 L

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table

Battle In The Crease

The key for the Jets in this series will be Conor Hellebuyck. Can he be good enough in this series against a tough Vegas team? Vegas has a deep defense with structure. Can Hellebuyck be good enough to pick up the team if the offense struggles to score?

The Golden Knights have an ace in net this series with Marc-Andre Fleury in the crease. MAF knows what he is doing. He has been this deep in the playoffs before with the Pittsburgh Penguins in their two straight Stanley Cup Championships. You better believe he will be ready to go.

The Jets Offense Versus The Golden Knights Defense

This is a battle I will be watching very closely; the Jets offense is high powered and deep with depth, as proven in the last series. The Jets have so much talent up front it isn’t even funny. In fact when I did the series preview for the series versus the Preds; I said the top six for Winnipeg might be better than Nashville. And I was right.

But the Jets offense better not rest because the Golden Knights defense is very deep and it plays a structure that suffocates opposing offenses. This was proven during the last series when the Golden Knights made the Sharks offense look inept at times. But then again, they looked beatable in certain areas. Hopefully, for the Jets sake, they can find holes in the Golden Knights defense.

Jets Depth Could Be The Difference

The Jets bottom six is much deeper than the Golden Knights bottom six. And I think this will be exploited. The Jets have a very deep team and I think that will pose problems for the Golden Knights.

Prediction

I am going with Jets in six.

The Golden Knights story was nice and admirable, but I think they will finally meet their match. I thought last round the winner of the Predators-Jets series was going to win the West, and I still think that.

This should be a fantastic series though. The Golden Knights need Fleury to shine and the defense to be superb in order to shut down the Jets if they can do that they can take the series. I just do not think it will go that way.

– Kevin Gesterling is an NHL Contributor for Full Press Coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @KGesterling_FPC and @FPC_NHL

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