The Vegas Golden Knights secured the top overall seed in the Western Conference Playoffs and will take on the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, starting Tuesday, April 18.
It wasn’t too long ago we saw these two teams face each other on one of the biggest stages in the Western Conference Final. That was back in 2018, the first season for the Golden Knights, when they went to the Stanley Cup Final. En route, Vegas defeated the Jets in five games in the Conference Final. A lot has changed since that series.
Both teams have new head coaches. Bruce Cassidy took over for Vegas after being let go by the Boston Bruins. Cassidy adopted mostly a veteran roster and has weathered some injuries to get the Golden Knights back to the top of the conference; last year was the first time Vegas had missed the postseason since its inception in 2017-18. Jack Eichel played at nearly a point-per-game pace in his first full season with the Golden Knights.
Goaltending is the biggest revolving door in Vegas. Logan Thompson briefly came back from injury but is back on the mend with a lower-body ailment. It’s unclear if he’ll be the starter or if the team will turn to Jonathan Quick or stick with Laurent Brossoit. You don’t often see a top seeded team with this big an issue in net. We’ll see if it forces an early exit for Vegas.
That exit may not come too early. The Jets are also back in the postseason after missing last year. Paul Maurice is out as head coach, replaced by veteran Rick Bowness. The Jets will go as far as Connor Hellebuyck takes them. Hellebuyck is coming off a bounce-back season, finishing with 37 wins, a 2.49 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Had it not been for Helly, the Jets likely aren’t in this situation. Winnipeg relies heavily on its goalie due to a not-so-deep defense. The forward group has some depth and scoring, led by Kyle Connor, who had 80 points this season. Mark Scheifele had a resurgence of sorts as well this season with a career-high 42 goals at age 30.
2023 NHL Playoffs: Golden Knights vs. Jets schedule
Game 1: Jets @ Golden Knights, Tuesday, April 18, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2: Jets @ Golden Knights, Thursday, April 20, 10 p.m., TBS
Game 3: Golden Knights @ Jets, Saturday, April 22, 4 p.m., TBS
Game 4: Golden Knights @ Jets, Saturday, April 24, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 5: Jets @ Golden Knights, Thursday, April 27
Game 6: Golden Knights @ Jets, Saturday, April 29
Game 7: Jets @ Golden Knights, Monday, May 1