The Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals are set to begin the final leg of the journey in the quest for the Stanley Cup. In order to reach this point, each team endured through an 82-game regular season and a subsequent two months of tough playoff hockey. Now, it comes down to one seven-game series.
Which one will come out ahead? Time will tell. That is not what this article is about. That is coming later on this weekend.
This article will focus on which team has the better defense, and why.
How We Got Here
The Golden Knights took out the Winnipeg Jets in five games in the Western Conference Finals. They looked very impressive in knocking off the Jets who came in with the second-best record in the entire NHL this year.
Washington, on the other hand, had their hands full with the Lightning. They required seven games to knock off the Lightning and they did it with great contributions from their depth players. And Braden Holtby, of course, was a rock in net.
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Which Defense Is Better?
The point of this article is to try to figure out who has the best defense. Fortunately, this is a question that I have the answer for. But first a little context. I base this on stats and how I think the teams look on defense.
And I can make a fairly easy case and argument that the Golden Knights have had the better of the two defenses. And I will make that case because I believe that it is true.
But I would be remiss not to mention the Capitals defense, it has been really good. The group is lead by John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, and Brooks Orpik. Part of the success is because they are more physical than that I expected them to be, so, therefore, there is a slight intimidation factor to take into account. That is part of the reason as to why they stymied the Lightning offense. And that to me is commendable considering the firepower the Tampa offense has.
However, based on stats and the eye test, I feel like Vegas has the better defense. They play a system that is confusing to other teams and hard to penetrate. Despite allowing the fifth most shots against in the playoffs per game; they do not allow many high grade scoring chances.
Lead by Brayden Mcnabb. Luca Sbisa and Derek Engelland providing some booming hits, this team can play a nasty defensive style. Furthermore, if you add in both Shea Theodore and Colin Miller with the ability to provide some bang with their booming slappers from the point, this defense is pretty nasty. And when you have Marc-Andre Fleury there stop any threats, the Golden Knights they can afford to allow an opportunity or two. But they usually don’t.
It may have been a week ago, but we saw that with Winnipeg’s offense, and their inability to get in the zone and get anything going was obviously an issue, one of which that cost them the series.
In conclusion, the Golden Knights, in my opinion, have the better defense. They may allow more shots, but they do not allow many scoring chances. Which should be advantageous for them. Especially with Marc-Andre Fleury in net backstopping them. This should be a fantastic series and I look forward to the eventual chess match that gets played. I wonder if the Capitals offense gets shut down like the Jets offense did last round. That was very impressive.