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Here Are Some Reasons Why The Penguins Look Like The Penguins Again

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The Vegas Golden Knights are dead.

The magic of the NHL's newest expansion team finally ran out, and their inaugural season came to a close on Thursday night in Vegas. After an incredible and improbable run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, the Golden Knights were defeated by the Caps in five games -- turning them into the NHL's official runner-up this season.

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Here's what went wrong for Vegas.

1. Fleury finally faltered

I want to get this out of the way: I am by no means blaming Marc-Andre Fleury for Golden Knights losing the Stanley Cup. I think the numbers suggest that the Vegas goalie was worse than he actually looked in the series, but 20 goals allowed in five games with an .853 save percentage is simply not good.

> team logo> View Profile Marc-Andre Fleury LV • G • 29

Postseason stats: 13-7, .927 SV%, 2.24 GAA, 4 shutouts

It's certainly not the same Fleury that we all marveled at through the first three rounds. The veteran netminder entered the Cup Final sporting a .947 save percentage and four shutouts through 15 games. He was the best goalie in the bracket to that point and the single-biggest reason Vegas was playing for the Cup.

However, the drop-off was significant, and he never really looked like a truly dominant wire-to-wire force during this series. He had his good stretches and I'd argue he didn't exactly cost the Knights any of the four losses on his own, but they needed him to be as great as he was through the first three series.

That's probably an unfair ask, but I don't think it's unfair to suggest that he could've finished a lot stronger. Even an above average series might have landed him the Conn Smythe Trophy for postseason MVP despite the series loss.