With four conference final appearances in their first six seasons, the Golden Knights became the third team in NHL playoff history to accomplish this feat.
Vegas Golden Knights have made history since they broke into the league, and they did it again on Sunday.
With their 5-2 victory over Edmonton, the Golden Knights became only the third team in NHL playoff history to reach the conference final four times in their first six seasons.
The New York Rangers advanced that far in six of their first seven seasons (1926-27 to 1932-33) and won the Stanley Cup twice. The St. Louis Blues made it in four of their first five seasons (1967-68 to 1971-72).
“I think Vegas is the most impressive of those,” Ontario-based hockey historian Eric Zweig said. They have managed to do it in a salary-cap era with 32 teams and they have still managed to do so. In spite of setbacks, they’ve not just been up and up. I can’t believe how they did it in the first year. That’s incredible that they actually held up that 100-point pace all year and made the Stanley Cup Final.
In addition to not winning the Stanley Cup, the Knights haven’t been back to the championship round since losing to Washington in five games that first year.
In the clincher against the Oilers, three players from that team scored all five goals.
“It’s been a roller coaster of a six years,” said Jonathan Marchessault, who scored a natural hat trick on Sunday. We started that term (Misfits), and when we were nobodies, we were really proud of it. Currently, we have six left, and we still have a chip on our shoulder.”
When the Western Conference-deciding series begins this week, Dallas or Seattle will stand between the Knights and the cup final.
Even if the Knights fall short, what they have accomplished is nothing short of remarkable, even at a time when expansion rules were relaxed to give them a chance to win.
However, the Rangers and Blues also had their advantages.
As the NHL expanded to ten teams in 1926, New York and two other teams joined. Adding a new division made up only of first-year clubs to the league in 1967, St. Louis doubled its size to 12 teams. As an expansion team, the Blues appeared in the Stanley Cup Final three times in their first three seasons before losing.
“It was a great feat for the Rangers,” Zweig said. It wasn’t so great for the Blues, even though they were the ones who accomplished it. No one else did. Despite the fact that there were only six NHL teams in the league and dozens and dozens of top players buried in the minors for years, they came in cheap and had to build the old-fashioned way. The field on which they built their team was decent, but they still managed to build the best team.”