The NHL’s newest champions are no stranger to Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Pittsburgh Penguins have now won two titles in the Sidney Crosby era, with the 2016 championship joining 2008-09 cup-winning season. Pittsburgh also won two championships during Mario Lemieux’s time with the club, claiming back-to-back cups in 1991 and 1992. But how does the 2016 squad compare to its predecessors? We turned to WhatIfSports.com’s NHL simulation engine to find out.
We placed each Penguins Stanley Cup winner into a round-robin tournament in which every team played every other team 51 times. Check out the results:
The expression "the latest and greatest" seemingly doesn’t apply to the Penguins. The 2015-16 team finished last in the simulation, winning 39.5 percent of games. The best team was Pittsburgh’s first champion, the 1990-91 squad, which won 60.1 percent of the time while averaging 4.80 goals per game.
The intersquad scrimmage did not have a promising outcome for the 2016 team, but perhaps expanding the pool of teams will have a more favorable result. We created a second tournament in which the 2015-16 Penguins were joined by the past 25 Stanley Cup champions. The field conveniently included every Penguins winner, as well as four Detroit Red Wings teams (1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008), three representatives from the New Jersey Devils (1995, 2000 and 2003) and three Chicago Blackhawks champions (2010, 2013 and 2015). The Colorado Avalanche (1996, 2001) and Los Angeles Kings (2012, 2014) also had multiple teams. Once again, every team played every other team 51 times. And once again, the 2016 team struggled:
2015-16 Penguins vs. Last 25 Stanley Cup Champions
The 2015-16 Penguins finished 25th in a 26-team field, winning 37.0 percent of contests. Only the 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings, who won the Stanley Cup as an eight seed, finished with a lower winning percentage.
Pittsburgh’s other participants weren’t much better. None finished in the top half of the simulation, with the 2008-09 team finishing a franchise-best 16th. The 1990-91 Penguins were 18th despite leading the tournament in scoring.
Colorado proved best franchise in the tournament, with its two teams taking the top two spots. The 1996 Avalanche narrowly edged the 2001 team, with the 2013 Blackhawks a close third.