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What's Happening In The Stanley Cup Playoffs (And With The Vegas Golden Knights) Is As Historic As It Is Bizarre

It'd feel like a dereliction of duty to not at least acknowledge what the Vegas Golden Knights are doing right now. Two wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals thanks to yet another come-from-behind win. Their fourth in a row. In the playoffs. And yeah, the fourth consecutive overtime game of the postseason in the Conference Finals.

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Had to clear the stage for the Heat annihilating the Celtics, not to mention a freaking phenomenal PGA Championship wherein Brooks Koepka won his fifth major and third Wanamaker Trophy. Oh yeah…and to paraphrase our own Dan Rapaport, Michael Block pulled off a week that, if you pitched it as a movie in Hollywood, you'd get laughed out of the room for how seemingly unrealistic the plot is.

I know you came for hockey. Real quick…Dan and Banks…PGA Championship Sunday…deserving of a tangential plug here:

--------Golf clap--------

ALRIGHT. HOCKEY.

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As fucking fire as the Stanley Cup playoffs have been and as hotly competitive as the Conference Finals are thus far, it was easy to lose sight of the history the Golden Knights are making. And how downright strange it all is. If you're gonna accuse any major sports league of being #RIGGED or scripted beforehand, look no further than the NHL. All due respect and love to Chief and the Barstool Chicagoans, there was a zero point zero percent chance Connor Bedard was going anywhere but the Blackhawks. Don't tell me about the pre-lottery odds to obtain the No. 1 overall pick. THE FIX WAS IN. Not that I mind. That's awesome for Bedard, Barstool, the Windy City, America, the sport of hockey, etc.

…Now we get four Conference Finals games all going to overtime? I'll hear an argument that the first one went off-script. No one in their right mind would want to play two actual full games plus almost another entire period. Rat King Matthew Tkachuk mercifully finished that one in quadruple OT. A little suspect that he had the GWG last night too, though.

And what's with all these Vegas comebacks? Insert Sin City live betting joke here. For real, all kidding aside (I really don't think the lottery was rigged…it wasn't…right?) what a crash to the net/top-shelf snipe from the slot by Jonathan Marchessault to force the extra action:

Keeping in mind that he's played well enough to make the Western Conference Final — trying to write this stuff out so I don't confuse myself with the NHL's mind-melting singular/plural switches when referencing playoff series — Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger ain't the same dude who was stonewalling the shit out of Calgary in a seven-game losing effort last year (1.82 GAA). That was a long sentence, my apologies. 

Oettinger is the classic X-factor of an elite backstop when he's on, but since finishing the opening round strong against Minnesota, he was pulled multiple times versus the Kraken, and has seen two OTGWGs slip past him from the Golden Knights. I will say, sometimes the puck just doesn't bounce your way, and that was the case on Sunday. Shea Theodore's long-range shot ricocheted off Oettinger's pad in such a weird way, right to Chandler Stephenson on the back side. Plus, there was a fair amount of traffic to deal with around the crease. Making that second save was damn near impossible short of a Hasek-esque contortionist sprawling type move.

Anyway this ain't about hitting Jake Oettinger with strays. It's about the Vegas Golden Knights' incredible, continued elite form as a very-recent expansion team. And how the NHL script doctors are on fire with these surgically-organized, 5D chess moves to make all four games go beyond regulation.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok