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Golden Knights Could Be Channeling ’92 Cup Champion Penguins

Penguins were surprise back-to-back Cup winners in 1991-92

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Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights, Stanley Cup
Are the Golden Knights following a path to the Stanley Cup similar to the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins?

Like the Vegas Golden Knights, the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins were a star-studded squad that was also defending Stanley cup champions. They would endure a tumultuous, up-and-down regular season, and a dismal start to the playoffs.

Then they won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.

When looking at the route taken by those Penguins, there are some obvious parallels to these Golden Knights.

Pittsburgh was 22-12-4 at the 38-game mark. Vegas was 22-11-5 at the 38-game mark.

The Penguins would then go on a 5-15-4 slide and flirt dangerously with missing the playoffs. While the Vegas skid of 11-11-2 wasn’t as dismal, it was just as damaging. Right up until the last week of the season, the Golden Knights weren’t sure that they’d be making the playoffs.

“There was definitely adversity that we battled this season,” Vegas forward Jack Eichel said.

Pittsburgh would finish third in the Patrick Division. Vegas would finish third in the Pacific Division.

The Penguins put on a 12-5-1 surge to close out the regular season and gain a playoff position. Vegas put together a 12-6-1 roll to the finish like that put the Golden Knights into a postseason place.

Penguins, Golden Knights Made Blockbuster Deals

With the Penguins teetering, GM Craig Patrick would unleash some blockbuster moves that would be shaking up his roster. Leaving were Paul Coffey and Mark Recchi. Incoming were Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuelsson and Ken Wregget.

As his club was grappling to make the playoffs, Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon was also busy at the NHL trade deadline. He was bringing in Tomas Hertl, Noah Hanifin and Anthony Mantha to beef up his lineup.

Vegas captain Mark Stone was out for 26 games due to a ruptured spleen. Penguins captain Mario Lemieux was out for 16 games due to a back injury.

Playoff Turnaround Sparked Penguins

Pittsburgh would face Washington in the opening round of the 1992 playoffs. The Capitals finished the season 11 points ahead of the Penguins and raced to a 3-1 series lead. Then Pittsburgh won in seven games.

The Penguins lost two of the first three games to the New York Rangers in the second round, then never lost again. They beat the Rangers in six games and swept Boston and Chicago to retain the Cup.

Could the Golden Knights be about to do likewise?

“I think it was important that we give ourselves a chance by getting in,” Eichel said. “With the group we have, I think we understand that as soon as you get in, anything can happen.”

They’re facing the Dallas Stars, who finished 15 points ahead of Vegas. The series gets underway on Monday.