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the golden ticket
April 19, 2018

The NHL's newest expansion team did not project to spend this year being golden, and certainly not every night. But that's exactly what the Vegas Golden Knights — a collection of hockey players assembled via an expansion draft but 10 months ago — have done this season.

The Golden Knights won the top seed in the NHL's Pacific Division during the regular season, and on Tuesday they completed a sweep of their division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, in the first round of the playoffs. To date, the Golden Knights franchise has not lost a playoff game.

It's a far cry from what was expected when the season began — and for faithful fans, it could prove lucrative. ESPN noted Thursday that the Golden Knights began the season with 500-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, but they are now "co-favorites" with the Nashville Predators to emerge on top, with 4-1 odds.

Not only that, but the Las Vegas-based gaming company Station Casinos is offering its most loyal customers the opportunity to place a "free bet" on the Golden Knights to win the Cup, ESPN's Darren Rovell reports. The free bets will be doled out at random, with values from $5 to $250, but all will wager that the Golden Knights will emerge as champions this June and be tied to the 4-1 odds.

Enrollees of Station Casinos' loyalty program, known as Boarding Pass members, can visit any participating Station Casinos location on April 23 and swipe their loyalty card to redeem their vouchers. More fairweather gamblers can visit that day to try to amass enough loyalty points to earn a Boarding Pass, and then immediately redeem their free bet.

The Golden Knights will face the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference semifinals. Safe to say, they are excited. Kimberly Alters

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