There will be a brand-new Stanley Cup champion in 2018.
The Washington Capitals, without a title in their first 43 seasons, or the Vegas Golden Knights, in their first season, will hoist hockey's most-coveted trophy at the end of the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final, which begins at T-Mobile Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
We couldn't wait to see what will happen between these two teams on the ice, so we asked our staff of writers who will cover the Final to give their opinions on who will win.
[RELATED: Fleury's Conn Smythe chances if Golden Knights lose | Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage]
Here's what they had to say:
Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
There's just something about a hot goaltender. And by hot goaltender, I don't mean Marc-Andre Fleury. Sure, Fleury is the Conn Smythe Trophy favorite with a 1.68 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But Braden Holtby hasn't allowed a goal in 159:27, shutting out the dynamic Tampa Bay Lightning in two consecutive elimination games. Add in a highly, highly motivated Alex Ovechkin -- did you watch his emotions in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final? -- and it's a recipe for raising the Cup. The Capitals clinch the Stanley Cup at home, in six games.
Tim Campbell, staff writer
One thing I called correctly, something I shared with colleague Tom Gulitti earlier, was that not winning the Presidents' Trophy could be the best thing that never happened to the Capitals. They'll get their crack at their first Stanley Cup championship, and even after all they've been through, they haven't faced their sternest test of all. That will be the Golden Knights, who know how to be relentless in all zones of the ice, a theme that no Western Conference team was able to solve in a playoff series. Vegas' team concept has been nothing short of stellar in the playoffs, proving that anything is possible. Including winning the Cup as an expansion team, in five games.
Video: Harper on Vegas' Stanley Cup run, impact on city
Nick Cotsonika, columnist
You going to pick against Vegas at this point? Not only is this a team of speed, depth and relentless drive, this is a team of destiny. Brayden McNabb, a former Los Angeles Kings defenseman, scored to eliminate the Kings. Ryan Carpenter, a former San Jose Sharks forward, had an assist on a goal to help eliminate the Sharks. Ryan Reaves, a Winnipeg native, scored to eliminate the Winnipeg Jets. Fleury clinched three straight series on the road. Now Nate Schmidt, a former Capitals defenseman, and Fleury, a former Capitals tormentor, will complete the storybook ending. Vegas in six.
Lisa Dillman, staff writer
There was a feeling of dread coming as soon as the Capitals clinched the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday. Not because the Capitals won. But because a message came from a Vegas-based Twitter account mocking me (and other scribes) for going 0-2 for conference final picks. Of course, there are many reasons beyond Twitter shame for going with the Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup. Less obvious is the rest component will be a major consideration going deep into the series. Vegas will have had three long breaks after each round. The break helped them against the Jets in the Western Conference Final, and it's going to help them again against the Capitals. Vegas in six games.
Video: Golden Knights are set for success in the long haul
Tom Gulitti, staff writer
After being wrong about the Golden Knights throughout the regular season, I decided not to pick against them in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's proven to be a wise decision so far. So why am I picking the Capitals? Because they've proven to be a team of destiny too. Following years of playoff disappointments, they've put it all together this season to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in their history and first time since 1998. Ovechkin will fulfill his dream and lead the Capitals to their first championship: Washington in six games.
Tracey Myers, staff writer
I never thought I'd be considering the Golden Knights for a Stanley Cup championship in their first season, but here we are. Not only have the Golden Knights gotten here, they've done it in convincing fashion. From the outstanding goaltending of Fleury to the balanced scoring led by forwards Jonathan Marchessault and James Neal, the Golden Knights have made a lot of us look like fools (she says looking at her second- and third-round picks). Vegas in seven games.
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Shawn Roarke, Director of Editorial
OK, I've learned my lesson! I've picked against the Golden Knights for three straight rounds, foiled each time by the stellar play of Fleury and the team-first ethos of these self-proclaimed "Misfits." Well, no more. Consider me converted and part of the Golden Knights Army. After watching this team on an almost daily basis for two weeks, I'm now convinced something magical is happening in the desert. Fleury is the best goalie in the tournament, and some of the best defensemen in the League have failed to slow down the top line. I'm all-in: Vegas in seven games.
Dan Rosen, senior writer
I just watched the Capitals win two games, Games 6 and 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, that previous versions of the Capitals never would have won. I watched Ovechkin score a huge goal in Game 7. I watched Holtby shut out a team that that was blanked once in its first 97 games twice in a row. Vegas has been magical; its season so unbelievable Disney couldn't even write a script for it. Fleury has been terrific. But give me Ovechkin, Holtby, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Give me the Capitals in seven. It's their turn. It's their time.
Video: What does Washington need to do to win the Cup?
Dave Stubbs, columnist
I predicted the Pittsburgh Penguins would win the 2017 Stanley Cup in six games and Sidney Crosby would win the Conn Smythe Trophy. What a fool I was not to have retired my crystal ball on that. I've eliminated the Golden Knights the past two rounds, so maybe it's time to wake up, smell the espresso, and realize that the fairy tale will have a happily-ever-after ending. Vegas is going to win it all in six games.
Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
So it's come to this: Ovi versus Cinderella. Ovechkin's Capitals against the fairy-tale Golden Knights. Each storyline is incredible, but I'm going to give the nod to The Great Eight. He's waited far too long in his career to get this far and come up short. Sure, Fleury has been brilliant, but Holtby has been no slouch either, shutting out the Lightning for the final 159:27 of the Eastern Final. As such, Capitals in six.
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