It seem’s like an eternity since the Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Western Conference Champion is enjoying the extra rest as they await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals. Well, the wait is just about over as the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Washington Capitals in game seven Wednesday night. The FPC NHL Staff was given a simple question: Who is the Capitals’ x-factor in game seven?

Ian Glendon: There are a number of candidates to choose from when it comes to X-Factors for the Capitals. Braden Holtby is a good choice as his play can fluctuate and they certainly need his top effort tonight on the road. However, for the Capitals, their X-Factor is their best player and captain, Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin has been the face of the franchise since 2003 and this is the first time they have even reached the conference finals. As a franchise, they have not played for the Stanley Cup since 1998 when they went up against the far superior Detroit Red Wings. Not only is Ovechkin been the Capitals best player, he is one of the best pure goal scorers in NHL history. With that said, without his name on the Cup, his career will always have a “yea..but” attached to it. Therefore, being one game away from his first Finals appearance, Ovechkin has to come through for the Capitals. He is their only X-Factor.

Kevin Gesterling: I selected two for Tampa and I will do the same for Washington because they have two as well. The depth players for Washington are going to be a key for the Capitals. They need guys like Devante Smith-Pelly, Jakub Vrana, Brett Conolly, and Lars Eller to be on their game. This is going to take a full team effort. And despite my claim in the preview I did, the Capitals may actually have the better depth in this series which surprises me in a sense.

The main X-Factor is Braden Holtby he is going to have to stand on his head for the Capitals. Because I firmly believe he is going to be under fire all night. I think more so in the first period. Can he survive the first period? If he can I like the Capitals chances.

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Zachary Herr: The X-factor for this Capitals team has to be Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov has been tearing up the postseason and continues to dominate in this series. He has six goals and six assists in his recent seven games. This postseason, he also set a Capitals record when he recorded 22 points so far. Kuznetsov has been flying all over the ice every shift and has made his presence strongly known with his fast skating, stick handling, and playmaking abilities. His line with Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin has been a huge threat to Tampa, and these three forwards playing together have caused a lot of damage.

J.W. Gravley: The X-Factor for the Caps is an easy one. It is Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin. The Caps need performances like game six to win the series and head to the Cup Final to play Vegas. It will be tough as Washington is going to be in Tampa and the fans will be ready, but if they play game seven like they did game one, two and six, then the Caps win. If they come out flat like games three, four and five, then it will be a long night for the Caps and their fans.

This game will be hard hitting. After the Caps came out and punched the Bolts in the mouth, look for Tampa Bay to come out and hit the Caps right in the mouth to start game seven. Even a fight is possible, hell even two could possibly happen. Regardless, at the end of the game handshakes will happen, the captains of their respective teams will chat for a few minutes after and congratulate each other on a season well done. And, at that moment, a celebration will begin, or anguish on what could’ve been will set in.
With it being game seven in Tampa, with the Bolts fans behind them, the city of Tampa Bay behind them, they have every reason to win, but they won’t. Caps take game seven in a tough one.
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