The Pittsburgh Penguins found themselves down two games to none in the 1991 Prince of Wales Conference Finals, until a guarantee from a proficient scorer, ignited the team and set their championship aspirations back on course.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were in deep against the Boston Bruins, following a 5-4 overtime loss in Game 2 of the Prince of Wales Finals that put them down 2-0.
Kevin Stevens made a bold proclamation following the game saying “It was a heartbreaker,” (Game 2). “When we get home, we’ll beat them. I’ll say it now – we’ll beat them.” (“Rosie’s Actions Do Talking”, 1991)
Three years later on May 25, 1994, Mark Messier of the New York Rangers guaranteed that his team would defeat the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
While Messier’s guarantee is more famous, Stevens was more impactful.
Let’s take a look back at how Stevens helped the Penguins turn the tide of the series,
Know thy Enemy
It is safe to assume that three members of the Bruins and Penguins knew each other fairly well, before their meeting in the conference finals.
In 1986-87, Stevens scored 35 goals with the vast majority of assist being earned by Janney.
It is no wonder why the Bruins would look to sign the home-grown Stevens to a deal when free agency hit in the summer of 1991, to play with Janney and Cam Neely.
Perhaps it was the intimate knowledge of his enemies, that led Stevens to make the guarantee.
Lead by Example
In the first two games of the series Stevens scored two goals on 10 shots.
During Game 3 of the series, Stevens scored one goal on three shots and added an assist on Ron Francis‘ fourth goal of the playoffs as Pittsburgh took the game by a score of 4-1.
Game 4 provided an identical score of 4-1, with Stevens scoring his 11th goal of the postseason and taking six penalty minutes,
With two goals and five points in Game 5 of the Conference Finals, Stevens set a career mark for most points in the playoffs, in Pittsburgh’s 7-2 win, which gave them a 3-2 series lead.
In the Penguins series-clinching 5-3 victory in Game 6, Stevens fell silent, scoring zero points and putting three pucks on net.
Stevens finished the series with six goals and 10 points, with 12 shots, and was able to back up the guarantee he made following Game 2.
What do you think of Stevens guarantee and do you think it was more powerful than Messier’s?