What a difference a year makes.A year ago at this time Travis Konecny Jersey
, the Winnipeg Jets weren’t even in the playoffs and the Vegas Golden Knights didn’t even have players.Now they’re getting ready to pit their depth, speed and two of the postseason’s best goaltenders against each other when the Western Conference final gets underway in Winnipeg on Saturday night.”We know what they bring, we know that they’re good, that they maybe surprised a few teams, but not really,” said Paul Stastny, whose Jets advance to the final with a Game 7 victory over the Predators on Thursday night. ”They had 109 points. In a sense they play like us, they have a lot of depth and they can roll four lines and they have good, puck-moving D. So we’re going to have our hands full for sure.”Vegas beat the Jets in two of their three regular-season meetings, splitting the two games in Winnipeg and winning the lone meeting at T-Mobile Arena. Two of those games were with Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury out with an injury.Fleury has had a tremendous postseason, registering four shutouts Adam Cracknell Jersey Womens
, a .951 save percentage and 1.53 goals-against average – all career bests. Appearing in his first postseason, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck has a 2.24 GAA and a .927 save percentage.Fleury had five days off in between series while Hellebuyck will have had just 48 hours to prepare for one of the fastest and most potent offenses in the league.”It is a quick turnaround,” Hellebuyck said Thursday night. ”We’re going to get our rest, we’re going to enjoy tonight and get back to it. Rest is a weapon, but I think the way we battle in this room, I think we’re prepared for anything.”Here are other things to watch in this series:SCORINGThe Jets have some of the best scoring depth of any team in the NHL, led by 44-goal scorer Patrik Laine. And he’s on the second line. Winnipeg’s top line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler scored a combined 208 points in the regular season. The Jets’ second line wasn’t far behind, with Laine, Stastny and Nikolaj Ehlers scoring 183 points. Winnipeg is tied with Washington for the most goals (43) during the playoffs.Vegas also boasts two potent lines but is capable of rolling four dangerous lines to balance the scoring across 12 forwards. The Golden Knights had four players finish with at least 60 points this season, led by William Karlsson (43 goals Wayne Simmonds Jersey
, 35 assists). Linemates Jonathan Marchessault (75 points) and Reilly Smith (60 points) complete one of the best lines in the NHL.RAGING ROOKIESBoth teams have first-year phenoms who can’t be overlooked.Vegas’ Alex Tuch has four goals and three assists as the sole postseason rookie for the Golden Knights.Winnipeg forward Kyle Connor scored his first two career playoff goals and added an assist in Game 5 against Nashville to become the first rookie in franchise history to post a three-point game in the playoffs. Connor, who scored nine goals over his last 13 regular-season games, had two assists in the Jets’ 5-1 victory over the Predators in Game 7.REST OR RUSTThe Golden Knights may have the advantage of rested legs, but they also will catch a dangerous Jets team that could still be fueled by momentum from Thursday’s win. Vegas had a long layoff after the first round and beat the Sharks 7-0 in Game 1 of the next series. But San Jose also had extended time off.ROAD WARRIORSBoth teams have shown they can win on the road in the playoffs.The Golden Knights won Games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles to complete a first-round sweep of the Kings, then took Games 3 and 6 in San Jose. Vegas has lost only once on the road in the postseason.Winnipeg is 4-2 on the road in the playoffs after splitting a pair in Minnesota in its opening-round series against the Wild. They took three on Nashville’s home ice.— CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Christopher Gibson refused to take all the credit after leading the New York Islanders to a much-needed win.The rookie goalie made 50 saves as the Islanders beat the Calgary Flames 5-2 to snap an eight-game losing streak.”Personally it’s great, but hockey is a team game,” said Gibson, who improved his record this season to 1-0-2. ”It’s a great feeling. I’m happy that the team won today. I think it was a full team effort. I let out some bad rebounds and guys were there to clear them out.”It was the second NHL win for Gibson, who went 1-1-1 for the Islanders in the 2015-16 season.”Ever since he’s been in the organization he’s been a great goaltender and tough to score on,” said forward Anders Lee Womens Bryan Rust Jersey
, who had two goals. ”We always know the potential that these (young) guys have, but when you come into the game and play as calm as he has been, it’s been a wonderful surprise.”Johnny Boychuk had a goal and two assists for the Islanders, who were 0-4-4 since winning at Carolina on Feb. 16. Nick Leddy and Jordan Eberle also scored, and Casey Cizikas and John Tavares had two assists each.New York pulled seven points behind Columbus for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.”To get a win, especially when we’ve been playing one-goal games and going into overtime and losing in a shootout or losing in overtime . something’s got to give, especially if you keep doing the right things,” Boychuk said. ”We know we’re in a corner and we have to win as many games as we can.”Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who kicked off a three-game homestand after going 2-0-1 on the road last week. Mark Giordano also scored.”It’s frustrating,” Giordano said. ”I think the problem is we’re getting down a lot at home where we’re forced to press a lot because you’re down by a few goals. That was the case again tonight.”Mike Smith made 22 saves in his return after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury.”I thought early on there I was a little sloppy, but I felt like I settled in pretty well as the game went on and got more comfortable Josh Jooris Jersey Womens
,” Smith said. ”Tonight I think mentally we weren’t engaged enough at the start of the game and it cost us.”Leddy opened the scoring at 2:14 of the first period when he fired a point shot that deflected off the post and in behind Smith.Just 18 seconds later, another point shot by Boychuk deflected off Calgary forward Troy Brouwer’s stick and past Smith to make it 2-0.Gaudreau scored at 7:23 to pull the Flames within one when he took a pass from Sean Monahan before snapping a shot to the short side past Gibson.The Islanders regained their two-goal advantage 3:02 later as Eberle tipped Boychuk’s shot on net before picking up his own rebound and backhanding the puck past Smith.Boychuk continued his strong performance early in the second period when he fired another slap shot on net that Smith stopped, but the rebound went right to Lee, who swatted it into the net to put New York up 4-1.Giordano poked a loose puck in the crease into the net behind Gibson at 7:24 of the third to pull the Flames within two.The Flames continued to put on the pressure, but weren’t able to get any more pucks past Gibson, who stopped point-blank chances by Sam Bennett and Gaudreau.Lee then added an empty-net goal with 10.1 seconds remaining.NOTES: Smith sustained his injury late in Calgary’s 3-2 win over the Islanders in New York on Feb. 11. … The Flames compiled a 5-6-2 record with Smith out of the lineup. … In addition to activating Smith off injured reserve, the Flames also assigned G Jon Gillies back to Stockton of the AHL on Sunday. … Gaudreau snapped a seven-game goal-scoring drought, while extending his point-scoring streak to four games. … Gibson became the third Islanders goalie this season to have at least 50 saves. Jaroslav Halak made 50 in a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers on Feb. 15 and Thomas Greiss had 52 in a 5-4 overtime win at Montreal on Jan. 15.UP NEXTIslanders: Host Washington on Thursday night.Flames: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.