You wouldn't have to go too far back to find the last time a National Hockey League franchise won back-to-back Stanley Cups. It happened in 2020 and 2021, when the Tampa Bay Lightning — a year removed from winning the President's Trophy and getting swept in the first round — finally broke through with its superstar core. The Bolts went to three Stanley Cup Finals between 2020-22, winning the first two before bowing out to the Colorado Avalanche in a thrilling six-game series in 2022.

A couple of seasons later, and it's the Vegas Golden Knights looking to go back-to-back in 2024. After destroying the Minnesota Wild 7-2 on Friday night to clinch a postseason berth, it'll be playoff hockey for the sixth time in seven years of existence for the franchise. We all remember what happened in their inaugural campaign — a thrilling run to the Stanley Cup Final that came just three wins short against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in 2018.

But the Knights broke through five campaigns later, defeating the Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars to come out of the Western Conference for the second time. And in their second try, the roster got it done, bringing a championship to the strip after beating up the Florida Panthers in five games. The finale was a 9-3 shellacking in front of a raucous crowd at T-Mobile Arena. It doesn't get any better than that.

Unless it does. The Knights have a very real chance to come out of the gauntlet that is the Western Conference in 2024, and with a wealth of experience and one of the most talented rosters in the league, all sights are set on back-to-back championships in Nevada. Here are a couple reasons why Vegas is legit heading into the postseason.

Knights getting healthy at the perfect time — again

For the third straight season, captain Mark Stone will be magically ready to go right before the playoffs. He's been on long-term injured reserve more often than not over the last three years as he deals with a plethora of injuries — the most recent a lacerated spleen — but it's fortuitous timing, nonetheless.

It would be shocking if the captain didn't play in Round 1, Game 1, and although there is ample criticism being levelled at the franchise, he will be an enormous boost to this club in the postseason. Last year, he had back surgery for the second time in 12 months, missed the final three months of the regular-season, and was back and ready to go once the playoffs came around.

Stone finished with 11 goals and 24 points in the playoffs, and was a catalyst of both his and the Knights' inaugural Stanley Cup championship. Stone is a gamer, and if he's ready to go, this is a completely different team. And after dealing with various ailments throughout the year, Vegas is nearly fully healthy heading into the end of April. They're one of the best squads in the league at full strength, and that's especially true after a couple of key trade deadline moves.

The additions of Anthony Mantha, Noah Hanifin, Tomas Hertl will be critical

Vegas Golden Knights players celebrate after defeating the Minnesota Wild 7-2 to clench the final playoff position in the Western Conference at T-Mobile Arena.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

No, this isn't the same Golden Knights team that won the Stanley Cup in 2023. It's better. General manager Kelly McCrimmon made a couple of huge splashes ahead of the deadline, getting deals done with Washington, Calgary and San Jose. McCrimmon acquired Anthony Mantha from the Capitals, added Noah Hanifin from the Flames, and in maybe the most surprising deal of deadline day, pried Sharks lifer Tomas Hertl out of San Jose. A very tidy piece of work by the GM.

That's three more weapons to add to an already potent roster, one that already features Stone, Jack Eichel, Shea Theodore, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, just to name a few. None of the three have looked out of place, with Hertl recently returning to the lineup and already scoring his first goal as a Golden Knight — and adding an assist — over three games.

Hertl will be ultra-motivated as he chases an elusive Stanley Cup. And so will Hanifin, who just inked a massive mega deal to remain in Las Vegas for the next eight seasons. As well, Mantha is a proven scorer who has been solid in a short sample size on the strip and will be a nice addition to the middle-six in the postseason.

With the additions of Mantha, Hanifin and Hertl, the Knights made it clear to the rest of the league that last year is in the past — it's a new opportunity. But maybe most importantly, the roster is gelling into a wagon at the perfect time.

Knights are rolling into the postseason — and this core knows how to win

The Knights are doing exactly what they did ahead of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs: win games. Despite a recent stretch of three consecutive losses, Vegas has won 16 of its last 22 games, improving to 43-28-8 and again looking like one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

With three games left in the regular-season — beginning against the Colorado Avalanche before tilts against the lowly Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks — there's still a chance for this team to lock up the No. 3 seed in the Pacific Division. But whether or not they are able to leapfrog the Los Angeles Kings, or instead fall into a wild card spot, this is a team that no one wants to play in Round 1.

The Knights are almost fully healthy after being decimated by the injury bug all year long. They're much improved, with each of Mantha, Hanifin and Hertl bringing a key element that should aid success in the postseason. And, most importantly, they've been there before. Vegas has been all around the postseason since 2018, and after finally breaking through, the sky is the limit for the current superstar core.

With the parity in the NHL today, the Golden Knights could be out in the first-round. But this is an elite, well-coached team that is hungry for another championship and has the pieces to get the job done come June. It'll be intriguing to see if we get another back-to-back Stanley Cup champion in 2024.