I thought about Nick Saban the other day when I walked into the Golden Knights’ practice facility.
Hundreds of fans were watching Gerard Gallant’s team open preparations for the Washington Capitals.
An open practice before a Stanley Cup quest begins? Can’t say I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. Try walking into Saban’s practice in Tuscaloosa three days before an Auburn game.
But I really couldn’t see much. I spent most of the time trying to peek around a Capitals fan, who was standing on a stool while wearing an Alex Ovechkin No. 8 jersey. Can’t say I’ve ever seen an Auburn jersey at Alabama practice.
“Excuse me, sir,” I said after I tapped him on the shoulder. “I’m from security. You’re going to have to leave.”
He turned around and had a good laugh. “Good luck to you guys,” he said.
I don’t whether he was taking notes or not.
Here’s something else you can’t do at Alabama. Across the street from the Knights’ practice facility, you can place a wager on your favorite team at the Stations’ Red Rock sports book. For Game 1, Golden Knights –155, Caps 135.
At the South Point the price on the Knights is –150. If you’re looking for the best price in town see our buddy Johnny Avello at the Wynn, where he had the Knights –145. Because of the big-money guests that it attracts and where it is on the Strip, the Wynn is going to get some big Washington money.
I spoke with Jay Kornegay at the Westgate SuperBook, because I was curious about that 500-1 ticket that we’ve seen floating around on the Knights to win the Cup. He told me that there were 13 tickets sold last summer at 500-1 at his shop before he changed the price. But he also said that many of them were purchased by the same bettor at $10 to $20 denominations, so he assumes they were bought for souvenirs or gifts. Those tickets better be behind a real secure piece of Plexiglas in a titanium frame safely away from Capitals enforcer Tom Wilson.
As for the series itself? Two distinct styles of play. This will match the speed of the Golden Knights against the power of the Caps. Staying away from stupid penalties will be the key for Vegas. The Caps are old school. They’ll take it down and dirty. The Knights represent the new generation in the NHL – five skaters playing up tempo at all times.
Marc-André Fleury is clearly the Knights’ MVP, but don’t overlook that his goaltending counterpart Braden Holtby closed out Tampa Bay with back-to-back shutouts.
I like the Knights to win this in seven games (yes, I’m biased). And most of all I’m hoping that that dude with the Ovechkin jersey sits down so I can watch the Golden Knights practice.