The Pittsburgh Penguins' Path to Winning the Stanley Cup Defied All Odds
Sure, the Pittsburgh Penguins' roster is filled with stars. The best player in the world, Sidney Crosby, plays for them, Evgeni Malkin is just as talented, Phil Kessel scores goals as well as any other player in hockey, and Kris Letang, despite never winning the Norris Trophy for best defenseman in the NHL, is always part of the trophy's finalists discussion.
But the Penguins weren't supposed to be here. They weren't supposed to lift the Stanley Cup as they did in San Jose last night.
Despite the firepower, the Penguins weren't a good team...for a portion of the year.
Back in mid-December, the Penguins fired head coach Mike Johnston and replaced him with Mike Sullivan, who was then the head coach of the team's minor league affiliate. When Sullivan entered the picture, Pittsburgh didn't get any better, losing four straight games.
When the new year hit, the Penguins weren't in great shape. They sat in 10th in the Eastern Conference, and the playoffs seemed hopeful rather than the sure lock it's been with Crosby as captain.
According to our numbers, they had just a 0.84% chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
Zero. Point. Eight. Four.
The team, though, was capable. After adding a little speed through trades -- snagging Carl Hagelin and Justin Schultz -- and calling up quick, fast-paced guys from the minors, things started to turn around.
No one, though, saw this coming.
No one saw the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup.
Not even math.
To quote everyone's favorite rapper, the Penguins started from the bottom.
And now they're here:
The best hugs are the ones right after you win the #StanleyCup.https://t.co/QOzqogZ5mR
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 13, 2016