The Pittsburgh Penguins Earned Their Second Straight Stanley Cup
As one of the powerhouses in the NHL for virtually the entire year, the Penguins were viewed as favorites to go all the way most of the time. After capturing their most recent title, though, it's apparent that Pittsburgh may have a dynasty in the making.
We know they won it all for the second year in a row, but what did their odds look like throughout the year? We'll be taking a look at this by using numberFire's nERD metric, along with some other stats to show just how dominant they were this season.
A Regular Season to Remember
While they didn't capture the Presidents' Trophy as the league's best team, the Pens were consistently ranked within the top five of our team power rankings, meaning they were expected to beat almost every team on neutral ice.
It was apparent that this squad was the real deal as early as December. This was when Sidney Crosby was firing on all cylinders and the Pens' 0.50 nERD was second best in the league. They also had a 91.0% chance of making the playoffs and a 9.4% chance of repeating as champs, according to our metrics. They were clearly doing something right to have such high odds with four months left in the regular season.
Another Fruitful Playoff Run
Once the fight for the Stanley Cup was underway, we saw exactly what we expected prior to each round -- the numbers favoring Pittsburgh to win almost every matchup they were involved in.
To recap their run through the Eastern Conference for the second straight year, the below chart shows the Pens' nERD at the time they faced each of their four opponents, along with their probability of winning each series.
|Opponent||PIT nERD||Series Win Probability|
As we can see, Pittsburgh's nERD mostly went up with each passing series, until they became the best remaining team. This is also impressive since they were the underdogs in their series against Washington.
To once again illustrate how dominant they really were, we can turn to their chances of taking home the Stanley Cup at the time of the Conference Final, which had stood at a whopping 43.98%, according to our metrics.
It's way too early to tell right now, but can the Penguins make it three in a row next year?
With a performance like what we just saw and production from players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Matt Murray, anything is possible. But the Pens -- even without star-studded players like Kris Letang -- seem like a well-oiled machine under head coach Mike Sullivan.
Could we be witnessing even more history in the making? Only time will tell.