Golden Knights Stanley Cup run grim reminder for Islanders, more
Vegas' improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals shows just how unsuccessful some NHL teams have been lately.
The Cinderella story continues to roll as the NHL's newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, just 226 games after playing their first-ever regular-season game.
Technically, they are the second expansion franchise to ever make a championship round in their respective sport, joining the St. Louis Blues in 1968, who lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Montreal Canadiens. However, the Blues were playing in a West Division in 1967-68 in which all six teams were expansion sides, meaning one was automatically going to be competing for a Stanley Cup.
They weren't a very good representative of the new division either, as they had a losing record, compiled just 70 points and were swept by the powerhouse Canadiens.
But this run to the Cup for Vegas is far more unlikely and much more impressive as they took a team of cast-offs, coupled with smooth dealings by general manager George McPhee, and became one of the best teams in the West. Yes, expansion rules were much better for the Golden Knights compared to new teams of the past, but a first-year team putting up 109 points, winning the established Pacific Division and losing just three games in their first three playoff rounds is one of the best stories we've seen in sports.
It also provides some of the more struggling franchises with an unwanted reminder of just how long it's been since they've had a season like the Golden Knights'.
So let's take a look:
Vegas Golden Knights 2017-18 season
51-24-7 record, 109 points, 3 playoff series wins, 1 Western Conference championship
Toronto Maple Leafs
Last 50-win season: Never (established 1917)
Last Stanley Cup Final appearance: 1967
Last Stanley Cup: 1967
3 playoff series wins since 2001
Last 50-win season: 2006-07 (53)
Last Stanley Cup Final appearance: 1999
Last Stanley Cup: Never (established 1971)
4 playoff series wins since 2005
Last 50-win season: 2009-10 (50, only in franchise history)
Last Stanley Cup Final appearance: None (established 1979 as original Winnipeg Jets)
Last Stanley Cup: Never
3 playoff series wins since 1986
New York Islanders
Last 50-win season: 1981-82 (54)
Last Stanley Cup Final appearance: 1984
Last Stanley Cup: 1983
3 playoff series wins since 1993
Columbus Blue Jackets
Last 50-win season: 2016-17 (50, only in franchise history)
Last Stanley Cup Final appearance: Never (established 2000)
Last Stanley Cup: Never
0 playoff series wins
Last 50-win season: None (established 2000)
Last Stanley Cup Final appearance: Never
Last Stanley Cup: None
4 playoff series wins since 2002
Other teams with notable Stanley Cup Final appearance droughts
St. Louis Blues- 1970
Montreal Canadiens- 1993
Florida Panthers- 1996
Washington Capitals- 1998 (currently down 3-2 in Eastern Conference Finals)
Dallas Stars- 2000
Colorado Avalanche- 2001