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Top 10 tidbits about the Vegas Golden Knights run to the Stanley Cup Finals

4 June 2018

The Vegas Golden Knights are in the Stanley Cup Finals in the first year of their existence. It began on 22 November 2016, when the expansion team received a name, team colors and logo. The Knights were overlooked from that point until they started making some noise in the regular season. They were given, at one point, 500-to-1 odds to take home the Stanley Cup – and look at them now. The Knights have taken over the city of Las Vegas as the city and the team rallied together in the wake of the mass shooting that took place in October. While the team's quest for a Stanley Cup isn't as unlikely as Leicester City winning the English Premier League at 5,000-to-1 odds in 2016, it does rank right up there with one of the best sports underdog stories of all time. So, as the team heads into tonight's Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals facing a 2-1 series deficit, here are 10 things you should know about the 2017-2018 Vegas Golden Knights. 10. The beginning In summer 2015, the NHL opened consideration to add the 31st NHL team to the league. It wasn’t until a year later that the NHL’s voting was completed to decide a Las Vegas franchise would be added. In April 2017, Gerard Gallant was hired to be the team’s first head coach after spending time with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers. From there, the next step was to find players to fill a roster. 9. Previous expansion teams It is safe to say that the Vegas Golden Knights have been the most successful in their inaugural season compared to other expansion teams that came before them. There have been 10 NHL teams added in the last 27 years. The 1993-1994 Florida Panthers were considered a solid expansion team, and they finished one game under .500 in their opening season. Across the remaining three major sports, no expansion team has finished the first season with more wins than losses. These examples enhance the idea that history is occurring in the NHL this season. 8. The expansion draft Every member on the Vegas Golden Knights’ roster has made an impact this season, but a few have really stood out. William Karlsson was left unprotected by the Columbus Blue Jackets and then taken by Vegas in the expansion draft. Karlsson scored just six goals in 81 games for Columbus last regular season and added 19 assists. This regular season, he scored 43 goals alongside 35 assists in 82 games for the Golden Knights. He finished the season with the league’s best plus/minus rating at +49. Reilly Smith was a member of the Florida Panthers before Vegas drafted him. In his final season with Florida, Smith tallied 37 points in 80 games played. He exploded this season, with 60 points in only 67 games played along with bringing his plus/minus from -13 last year to +31 in 2017-2018. Finally, you have the man between the pipes. Marc-Andre Fleury has been the key to success for Vegas. He spent the other 12 years of his career in Pittsburgh with the Penguins. In his first season playing for the Golden Knights, Fleury posted a career-best goals against average in the regular season with a 2.24. Currently, he has a postseason career-best in GAA as well. Marc-Andre Fleury this season is 42-21 on the money line as a starter, bringing bettors home14.4 units. There are many more contributors to the incredible run that is taking place, but these three are just a few highlights of a fully talented roster. 7. Fan support For team that is new to the league, it's key to know the city is behind you in order to win games and boost morale. In a place like Las Vegas, you are bound to have a good turnout and fan base for a couple of reasons. First off, fans are going to want to watch and see the team they are betting on. It makes sense that if you are from or visiting Vegas that you would place a bet on the Knights. If you do that, then it makes even more sense to watch or even go to the game to see the outcome of your wager. Another reason is that there is no other men’s professional sports team in the major four sports leagues. The Golden Knights were fourth in the NHL based on percentage of overall attendance in the 2017-2018 regular season. One final reason why the stadium was packed with Golden Knights fans is simple. If you have the chance to go see an expansion team play in their inaugural season and possibly witness history, why wouldn’t you? 6. Home record It may have been because of the great attendance and fans, but the Vegas Golden Knights were extremely tough to be at home. They began the season 19-2 at home and ended up 29-10-2 in the regular season at home, which was tied for third in amount of home wins. In the postseason, the Knights hold a 7-2 record at home. They are guaranteed to host Game 5 on Thursday night, and Game 7 if necessary. However, with the way they have played at home all season, it seems to be a smart bet to take them at home. The “Vegas Flu” might have something to do with the home win percentage. Teams may see that they are in Vegas and playing an expansion team who isn’t supposed to be very good, and then they go out and party in Vegas the night before the game. You never know. Some say it’s just a rumor, but who are we to say if it is true or not? 5. Stanley Cup MVP We already mentioned how great Marc-Andre Fleury has been, but it can’t hurt to emphasize what he has accomplished so far. Fleury is the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is awarded to the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. His odds are 5-7 and followed by Washington Capital’s forward Alex Ovechkin at 7-2. Why is he the favorite? He holds a 1.88 GAA in the playoffs. That is third best for qualified goalies in the playoffs. However, the two leaders in that category only played four games in the postseason. Fleury has played 17 games. The Knights’ goaltender has posted four shutouts in the playoffs as well. The next highest is two. 4. Betting the puck line If you are looking to bet on Game 3, you may want to check out the success the Knights have had with the puck line. This year, Vegas is 33-6 when catching 1.5 goals on the puck line. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals was a big success if you bet the puck line for the Knights. A late empty net goal won you that bet at -1.5 goals, which probably changed your mood toward the game. 3. Those who benefit from it Westgate SuperBook Manager Ed Salmons said on a recent VSiN interview that the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino had the Knights at 500-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup before the season and received 13 bets at that price, none more than $20. Salmons also said the hockey handle this year at the Westgate is up 25%. It isn’t a bad idea when you see crazy odds like that to throw down a few dollars. People who placed some money on Leicester City understand that. Those 13 bets are looking pretty good right now, but there were also more bets placed on Vegas to win it all when they were given 300-to-1 odds in the preseason. If you followed the Golden Knights all season and consistently bet on them, then you are in great shape with your wagers. Following Game 3 of Stanley Cup Finals, the Knights are 65-36 on the money line and +25.2 units. Meaning if you had bet $100 on them blindly in every game this season you would be up $2,520. They are also now 38-20 on the money line against teams with a winning record this year, +18.5 units. 2. Those who lose from it In Las Vegas, sportsbooks will take an estimated cumulative loss of $5 million to $7 million if the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup, according to the Las Vegas Journal. It is going to be a well fought series after the Capitals took the last two games to give Washington a 2-1 series lead. 1. Stanley Cup Finals favorites It can be hard to imagine that a team who was given 500-to-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup would be favored in the finals, but that is what happened. The lowest the odds were in the regular season were 5-to-1 near the end of February. Entering the final series against the Capitals, Vegas was a -125 favorite. It really is remarkable and has already been a historic season from the expansion team, but they are looking to cap it all off with a title that will break the bank and leave fans hesitant to use the word impossible.
Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.
Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.