Sports

A Bandwagon Guide to the Unlikely Capitals-Golden Knights Stanley Cup Final

We break down a bunch of key categories to help neutral fans determine who to cheer for to win the Cup.
May 25, 2018, 4:58pm
Photos by Kirby Lee, Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

So you're not a fan of the Washington Capitals or Vegas Golden Knights, huh? You don't have any interest in watching them play for a championship, huh? Stanley Cup Final ratings year after year indicate the neutral observer would rather watch Scrubs reruns than a game involving two teams he or she doesn't care about but maybe that's because nobody has given you a compelling case to hop on a bandwagon.

This year's Super Bowl involved the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, which was like choosing between watching your parents ripped apart by bears or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; no matter what happened, you were going to be irrevocably psychologically damaged. With the Capitals and Golden Knights, we get to pick between two likable teams looking to cap off unexpected championship seasons.

The only proper way to decide your allegiances is to look at what the Capitals and Knights offer and hitching your wagon to the team you want to call your own for a couple weeks. Let's break down each team in some very important categories that were not chosen specifically as vessels for jokes. How dare you even think that?

THE CITIES

On one hand you have Washington, a city without any casinos, sports books or a mass transit system that runs after the sun goes down. On the other hand, you have Las Vegas, which hasn't shut down since it opened.

Which is better? Each city is a place filled with people looking to hustle you out of your hard-earned money but at least Las Vegas gives you free booze while they do it.

THE DOUCHEBAGS

On one hand you have Tom Wilson, a player without any conscience, regard for human life or the power to keep his city's mass transit system running after the sun goes down. On the other hand, you have... James Neal? He did knee Brad Marchand in the head that one time. Alex Tuch wore a border control costume this Halloween, which is extremely douchey.

Which douchebag is bigger? Wilson has run more people into the ground than a sadistic cross country coach and doesn't seem to give two shits about it, so it's another easy answer.

THE BELEAGUERED STARS WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE

Alex Ovechkin has taken the blame for everything wrong with Washington since he arrived in 2005. The playoff failures, the participation banners hung in the arena, Nicklas Backstrom's failures, the outdoor game uniforms, government shutdowns, Kirk Cousins' contract situation and departure, the lack of a mass transit system that runs after the sun goes down, Dan Snyder's existence and the Capitals' lack of a Stanley Cup. With four more wins, Ovechkin can play the rest of his career and chase the all-time goals record in peace.

Marc-Andre Fleury has three championships—one as a starter, one as a backup, and one as a helper—but was cast aside in Pittsburgh after last season when Matt Murray took his job and made him expendable. Fleury was the scapegoat for the Penguins' failures between 2010 and 2013, which means a Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup would complete his redemption story.

Who is more worthy of your love? Fleury lost his job fair and square in Pittsburgh and come on, he has three Cups. Ovechkin has zero and who knows if he ever gets this far again. You should be pulling very hard for Ovechkin.

FAN BASES MOST UPSET BY THE OUTCOME

If the Capitals finally win a Cup, the most pissed off people will be Penguins fans and Rangers fans; Penguins fans have forged an identity through laughing at the Capitals and that will go away completely. Rangers fans have the goaltending version of Ovechkin, and if the real Ovechkin wins a Cup, that shines (an equally dumb and unfair) spotlight on Henrik Lundqvist's lack of a Cup.

If the Golden Knights win a Cup in their first season, it will piss off [Gary Oldman in The Professional voice] EVERYONE. I believe it should be something to be celebrated by everyone but I know it won't be. Fans across North America will spend the offseason wandering the streets, lost, confused, muttering to themselves about a rigged expansion draft.

Which is better for you? This really comes down to how much you hate the Penguins and Rangers, which, based on my online experience, is a lot. If you have those fans in your life, sure, I get why you want them to suffer. But what's best for everyone is chaos, and that's what Vegas winning the Cup will provide. This decision is between you and your heart.

CANADA'S LEVEL OF ANGER

If Canada can no longer hold the whole no Cups thing over Ovechkin, the nation may collapse. The Ovechkin Isn't A Winner takes make up 45 percent of the Canadian economy and there's no telling what a collapse like that will do to the global markets. Does Don Cherry have enough money saved in the event of an Ovechkin Take Crisis?

It's been 25 years since a Canadian franchise has hoisted the Cup and there's no telling what a first-year franchise in a desert community winning it will do to Canada. My guess is Canada is so numb to losing the Cup every year that the acceptance of American hockey dominance happened a long time ago and they won't even feel it when Deryk Engelland takes the Cup from Gary Bettman.

Which is better for you? I lean toward Ovechkin winning the Cup, because it will lead to a whole bunch of people apologizing or inventing new crazy takes to survive. "Ovechkin has one Cup... but he should have more!" "Ovechkin's Cup came against an expansion team, and that's why it shouldn't count!" There's way more upside to a Capitals championship.

SHIT YELLED DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM

During the sacred ritual that is singing America's theme song before a sports game, each teams' fans scream one of the lyrics during home games. In Vegas, it's "gave proof through the KNIGHT" because of the Golden Knights and in Washington it's "rockets' RED glare" because the Capitals have the color red in their uniforms. So when Seattle joins the league and becomes the Vampire Wolves, they will go with, "At the TWILIGHT'S last gleaming."

Which is better? Neither! What are you people doing? Either sing the entire song from start to finish or keep your traps shut. Every fan base is looking for some gimmick during the anthem and they are all stupid. Rangers fans mumble a disorganized "LET'S GO RANGERS" and Jets fans scream "TRUE NORTH" during "O Canada" to honor the corporation that owns the Jets, which seems like a gag they'd do on Silicon Valley at Hooli. How long before Flyers fans start yelling "BROAD stripes" at home games? This is a PUSH (I was listening to Matchbox Twenty while writing this).

PREGAME ARENA SHOWS

Vegas offers a free Medieval Time show before every game where a fancy knight on skates has a sword fight with a person or something like a jet plane. I have no idea what even happens in Washington. Does a guy dress like Ben Franklin and read from the Constitution? Who cares?

Which is better? Unless the Capitals get some dudes with muskets shooting at each other, this is a no-brainer.

TEAM SLOGANS

It's #ALLCAPS vs #VegasBorn in what has to be the dorkiest hashtag matchup in Final history. Of course you're "Vegas Born"—your team was born in Vegas. What sort of lazy-ass slogan is that? What stops any other team from doing this? I guess all the relocating. Yeah, that's the answer to that question. I take it back.

Which is better? All earnest hashtags are bad. That's the lesson here.

WHICH OUTCOME IS FUNNIER

The Capitals finally getting a Cup with what is objectively a worse team than they had the previous two years is hilarious. Barry Trotz pooped all over Kevin Shattenkirk this season and essentially blamed him for the Capitals' losing in the second round last year and it turns out maybe he had a point. Braden Holtby was so bad that he wasn't even the starter when the playoffs began and now he has a chance at winning the Conn Smythe. There are a lot of laughs packed into a potential Washington victory.

But the Golden Knights winning it all in their first year is the Monty Python and the Holy Grail (or whatever movie you find really funny, I don't care) of sports comedy. You won't ever laugh like this in your life. Literally nobody—not me, not you, not team owner Bill Foley—thought this was possible and now the Knights are favorites in the Cup Final.

And this last answer is all that matters. You should be pulling for Vegas. Thinking about every NHL GM staring at his TV as Brayden McNabb hands the Cup to Luca Sbisa, who hands it to Ryan Reaves, who hands it to Colin Miller, who hands it to Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith at the same time, who put down the Cup and hold up a sign that reads, "THANK YOU DALE" is something too good to pass up.

There's plenty to enjoy about a Caps win but nothing in the history of hockey will be more pleasurable than the Vegas Golden Knights being crowned Stanley Cup champs.

This article originally appeared on VICE Sports CA.