NANAIMO — The Stanley Cup Final is the pinnacle of the NHL season and the storylines have led to many local hockey fans picking a side.
The Washington Capitals have never won, and their star player Alexander Ovechkin has become one of the darlings of the playoffs with his strong play and raw displays of emotion.
On the other side the Vegas Golden Knights have made it to the Final as an expansion team, and the thought they could make history by winning a championship as a first year team is compelling.
During Game 4 I went to a couple of local pubs to take the pulse of Nanaimo hockey fans and see who they were routing for in this year's Final.
The Longwood Brew Pub:
The Landlubber Pub:
Talking to staff at the Longwood and the Landlubber there hasn't been a huge amount of extra traffic for the Final this time around.
At a couple of the local sports shops there wasn't much Golden Knights or Capitals gear to be found.
That's a sign of the times as well with so much merchandise shopping being done online.
At Nanaimo's Sportchek for example World Cup 2018 jerseys were front and centre along with the blue and white sweaters of the Toronto Blue Jays.
There is a local tie in to the Vegas Golden Knights as well with Nanaimo Minor Hockey grads Dylan Ferguson and Dylan Coghlan both a part of the Vegas organization.
19-year-old Ferguson had his NHL dream realized when he got the chance to play nine minutes between the pipes in a game against the Edmonton Oilers on November 15.
Although Ferguson and Coghlan are well known and may make the Golden Knights sentimental favourites in local minor hockey circles it seems that those young Nanaimo athletes aren't on the radar of the casual hockey fan.
My informal poll showed Nanaimo fans are leaning towards the Capitals as the team they're cheering for in the Final with the biggest reason being Alexander Ovechkin.
Over his 13 years in the league he's been the greatest goal scorer of his generation but he's also been the poster boy for Washington's lack of playoff success.
Among the people surveyed seeing “Ovie” win a cup is more of a draw than having an expansion team win a title in their first ever season.
On Monday the Capitals went up 3-1 in the Cup Final with a 6-2 and they are now the heavy favourites to win.
Just for fun I put the two teams in two video game simulations.
In the EA Sports NHL 18 world the Golden Knights recorded a seven game win and a five game series victory.
Here's a quick montage of Vegas winning in five:
Regardless of the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final the hockey offseason will once again be very short, if not non-existent.
The NHL Awards are on June 20, followed by the entry draft June 22-23, and free agency on July 1.
Training camp is September and the next NHL season starts in October.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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