The theme of this Penguins season - as seemingly all Pittsburgh Penguins championship seasons - is about transformation and unlikely roads to glory. We've all seen, read and thought a million times about how fortunately unlikely it was that this team would make the Stanley Cup Final given how poorly they started the year up to December.
More than that, though, the Pens third SCF in the Sidney Crosby / Evgeni Malkin era has made me think about the highs and lows of the experience too. According to the app timehop yesterday was the 3 year anniversary of the Pens sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. Remember how that felt? Obviously, it seems like light-years away from where we're at now, but it's always wild to look back on moments like that to be able to enjoy the present even more.
Which brings us to tomorrow, where crazy enough it will be the first time in the 49 year franchise history that the Penguins will have the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup on home ice.
- In 1991, the team won Game 5 vs the Minnesota North Stars at home, then won the Cup on the road in Game 6
- In 1992, the Pens swept Jeremy Roenick and the Chicago Blackhawks, winning Games 3 and 4 on the road
- In 2008, Pittsburgh never got to 3 wins to get a chance to win the Cup, but Detroit did and to the press moment are the only team to celebrate a Cup on Pittsburgh ice
- In 2009, the Pens won Game 6 at home for their third win of the series, then returned the favor and celebrated the Cup on Detroit ice
And now, finally in 2016, the Pens are in the position to win a championship in Pittsburgh for the first time for any pro Pittsburgh team since 1960, when Bill Mazeroski hit his famous home run at Forbes Field, in an iconic moment that still resonates 56 years later.
Will we get a moment as special as Maz? Maybe not. And, let's remember this isn't a coronation (though it sure sometimes feels like it). The Sharks are going to try and make the Pens go back to San Jose for a Game 6, and this series isn't over yet.
But there is a great opportunity for the Pens to do something we've never seen before, and it's been a most unlikely but enjoyable ride.