06/07 12:48 CDT Journeyman goalie Adin Hill has Vegas Golden Knights up 2-0
over Florida in the Stanley Cup Final
Journeyman goalie Adin Hill has Vegas Golden Knights up 2-0 over Florida in the
Stanley Cup Final
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) --- Adin Hill heard fans chanting his name following one big
save after another. He tried not to listen too intently.
After all, many in the crowd almost certainly didn't know who Hill was as
recently as a few months ago. An unheralded 27-year-old journeyman goaltender
is now a household name because his play is one of the biggest reasons the
Vegas Golden Knights are up 2-0 on the Florida Panthers in the final and two
victories away from winning the Stanley Cup.
Game 3 is Thursday night and Hill will return to the arena he was drafted in
eight years ago --- the fifth goalie picked, 76th overall in 2015 --- as a
playoff starter who has come of age since stepping in during the second round.
He has since gone 9-3, giving up just over two goals a game and posting an NHL
postseason-best .937 save percentage. Paid $2.7 million per year, Hill has been
better than two-time Vezina Trophy winner and $10 million per season netminder
Sergei Bobrovsky of the Panthers so far in the final.
He also has one of the top plays in the final so far, a spectacular stick save
in the opener.
"It's probably the most fun I've ever had playing hockey," Hill said. "I'm just
enjoying it, cherishing every day. ... I'm just living in the moment, and it's
been fun. It's been awesome to be part of the journey with this team."
The journey would not be possible without Hill, who in the final alone has
turned aside 62 of 66 shots. On the other side, Bobrovsky allowed four goals
each game and got pulled midway through Game 2.
While Bobrovsky got the hook, Hill has been quick with a jab. Florida's Nick
Cousins and Matthew Tkachuk have both gotten a blocker to the head when they
have skated into Hill's crease.
Hill even gave Tkachuk a hearty slash on the way out in Game 2. It's his way of
telling his defenders they don't always have to stick up for him when opponents
encroach on his space, a glimpse into Hill's anger that usually only surfaces
for a second or two when he's playing video games.
"If guys are going to the net and stuff, you have to stand your own ground,"
Hill said. "Our team all year, we've been disciplined but we'll stand up for
Discipline has been an issue for the Panthers so far in the final. They've
taken 25 penalties, including nine misconducts and another for abuse of
Coach Paul Maurice said his team's Game 2 loss "wasn't a discipline problem,"
as much of the time in the penalty box came after the score was lopsided.
Florida can't afford to be short-handed this much, especially with the Golden
Knights' power play finally clicking.
The Panthers have yet to score a power-play goal in the series, and part of
that is thanks to Hill. He made four saves in quick succession early in Game 2
that altered the course of the game and allowed Vegas to pounce and build a
Recalling Hill keeping the puck out of the net during that penalty kill,
teammate William Carrier was at a loss for words.
"It's hard to say," Carrier said. "He's been unbelievable for us since he came
back. He worked hard at the end of the season there when he was hurt. He's been
unreal for us."
Hill wasn't even dressed for the first first round because of an injury from
early March. Laurent Brossoit started Vegas' first eight playoff games before
he was injured early in Game 3 against Edmonton, pushing Hill into the lead
He's quick to say much of his success is thanks to the team in front of him,
and that's by design from first-year coach Bruce Cassidy. His self-described
goalie-friendly system allowed the Golden Knights to finish atop the Western
Conference with five different guys in net playing --- and winning.
"I feel like we want to be a layered hockey team and insulate our goalie from
high-end chances all the time," Cassidy said Tuesday. "But there's going to be
some, and (Hill has) been there every step of the way."
Dating to his time with Arizona and San Jose, Hill expressed quiet confidence
to teammates about being able to win consistently at this level. This run has
shown it, even if the sixth-year NHL veteran didn't doubt himself.
"I feel like it's more ?prove it' to teammates and other people," Hill said.
"Stuff I've been working on for five, six years that might be finally kind of
AP Sports Writer Mark Anderson in Las Vegas contributed.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and