The Sharks and Penguins Weren't Supposed to Be Stanley Cup Finalists

Both the Penguins and Sharks started their 2015-16 seasons slow, but they peaked at the right time and are now fighting for the Stanley Cup.

When the calendar flipped to 2016, both the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins would've been thrilled if you told them they'd make the playoffs.

That's because, on January 1st, both the Sharks and Penguins were in 10th place in their respective conferences in points.

Neither team had a winning record. And, combined, their odds of winning the Stanley Cup, per our numbers and given their play, sat at under three percent.

Today, those odds are 100 percent.

The Penguins, led by a nERD Rating -- the number of goals we'd expect them to win by against an average team -- that's second-best in the NHL, were able to knock off the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 last night, sending them to their first Stanley Cup Finals since winning it all in 2009.

The Sharks aren't far behind the Pens in nERD, ranking third, and won the Western Conference Finals in six games just a couple of nights ago. This is the first time the Sharks have ever made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Don't let the way these teams are playing now fool you -- it was a struggle early on in the season.

But here we are. And we should be in store for a good one according to our numbers.

San Jose Sharks win in 4: 6.26%
San Jose Sharks win in 5: 11.75%
San Jose Sharks win in 6: 14.85%
San Jose Sharks win in 7: 15.15%
San Jose Sharks win series: 48.01%
Pittsburgh Penguins win in 4: 6.47%
Pittsburgh Penguins win in 5: 12.61%
Pittsburgh Penguins win in 6: 17.12%
Pittsburgh Penguins win in 7: 15.79%
Pittsburgh Penguins win series: 51.99%

For two teams that have battled adversity this year, of course we've got a near-coin-flip final matchup.