Washington Capitals forward Chandler Stephenson will be keeping his own blog throughout the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. He will check in regularly with behind-the-scenes access.
Stephenson, 24, is in his first full season with the Capitals, who selected him in the third round (No. 77) of the 2012 NHL Draft. After playing 13 games for Washington from 2015-17, he had 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 67 regular-season games in 2017-18 and has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Here is Stephenson's first entry, before Game 1 at Vegas on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS):
LAS VEGAS -- I don't have any memories of it because I was so young, but I've seen the photos.
When I was 4 years old, my uncle, Joey Kocur, won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings, who defeated the Washington Capitals in the 1998 Stanley Cup Final. He had his day with the Stanley Cup in Kelvington, Saskatchewan, and I had my picture taken with it. I was sitting in it and everything.
We still talk about it. It's really cool to look back on those photos, and now it's almost a reality for me where we're at.
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We still have a long road to go, but this whole thing has just been crazy that I'm in the Stanley Cup Final with the Capitals against the Vegas Golden Knights. I can't really believe where I'm at or where the team is at.
It's been a whirlwind and nothing but excitement. I'm just looking forward to getting it going in Game 1 on Monday.
To be in this position is a surreal feeling. Just able to stick in the League my first year and now play in the Stanley Cup Final is awesome.
I couldn't have imagined everything that's happened since I got sent down after training camp. It was little bit of motivation in itself getting sent down and getting the opportunity to come back and prove myself.
Video: Stephenson on Capitals reaching Stanley Cup Final
When I was called up to play against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 26, the team was on the West Coast swing and I was excited to see family and friends. To get my first NHL goal out of the way in that game was a special feeling.
It's been going well for me since then, and I've just been enjoying the ride.
I've played up and down the lineup this season. I try not to change anything no matter which line I'm on. I just try to be me as much as I can, don't try to be somebody I'm not, and just embrace it.
That's kind of how it's been all year, embracing everything and the opportunities I've been getting, and having fun and running with it.
It seems like we've been off for a week waiting to get going since we won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday. But it was nice to get refreshed and clear your head in preparation for the big dance.
The fans gave us a great send-off after our practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Saturday. There was a lot of love and support, and more than 6,000 fans were there. It was great to see.
To be here at T-Mobile Arena and going through this Stanley Cup Final Media Day and things like that makes it more exciting to get going.
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