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Monday, April 5, 2010

Capitals Win Presidents' Trophy

With their team record 51st win on Saturday night, the Washington Capitals have clinched their first ever Presidents' Trophy

What is the Presidents' Trophy, you ask?   It is for having the best regular season point total in the league.  While little kids don't play pond hockey in the dead of winter and dream of carrying this trophy around in celebration, it's still quite an honor.  Some people say that it's better not to win the trophy because only 7 Presidents' Trophy winning teams have also won the Stanley Cup since the award was first presented in 1986.  Fear not, more #1 overall teams have won the Cup than any other position in league standings, and it provides home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, sort of like an immunity challenge in Survivor, minus the babes in bikinis.

Let's take a look previous Presidents' Trophy winners and see what happened to them so maybe we can put these fears to bed.  Of those teams that won the Presidents' Trophy and didn't win the Cup that season, most either won the Cup soon after or had won just before.  In almost every case, they did well in the playoffs that year. 

1986 - The Edmonton Oilers win the first ever Presidents' Trophy.  The Oilers had won the Stanley Cup in 1984 and 1985, but lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Calgary Flames on a fluke bounce off defenseman Steve Smith that will live in infamy.  The Oilers won the regular season title in 1984.
1987 - The Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup. 
1988 - The Calgary Flames lost in the second round to the Edmonton Oilers, who won the Stanley Cup.  But fear not, because:
1989 - The Calgary Flames won the Stanley Cup.

 Lanny McDonald

1990 - The Boston Bruins lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Edmonton Oilers.
1991 - The Chicago Blackhawks lost in the first round to Cup Finalist Minnesota North Stars.  The North Stars, who beat the Oilers in the Conference Final, scored an NHL Record 35 powerplay goals that playoff year, a record that still stands, including an NHL Record 15 powerplay goals in the Blackhawks series alone.  This could be worrisome because the Capitals' Penalty Kill is suspect, but again, fear not, the Blackhawks made it to the Stanley Cup Final the next season.

1992 - The New York Rangers lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.  See: 1994.
1993 - The Pittsburgh Penguins, who had just won the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cups,  lost in the second round to the New York Islanders.
1994 - The New York Rangers, who had won the Trophy in 1994, won the Cup this season, too.

 Mark Messier eats Stanley Cup - 1994

1995 - The Detroit Red Wings lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the New Jersey Devils.
1996 - The Detroit Red Wings set the NHL record with 62 regular season wins but lost in the Conference Final to Cup Champion Colorado.  The Red Wings won the next two Stanley Cups.
1997 - The Colorado Avalanche, winners of the 1996 Cup, lost to Detroit in the Conference Final.
1998 - The Dallas Stars lost in the Conference Final to Detroit, in part because of an injury to Joe Nieuwendyk.

 Joe Nieuwendyk and the Conn Smythe Trophy - 1999

1999 - The Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup, and Joe Nieuwendyk was named playoff MVP
2000 - St. Louis lost in the first round to the San Jose Sharks.

 Chris Pronger hoists the Trophy.

2001 - The Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup.

2002 - The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup.
2003 - The Ottawa Senators lost in the Conference Final to eventual Cup Champion New Jersey.  Ottawa returned to the Cup Final in 2007.
2004 - The Detroit Red Wings lost in the second round to Cup Finalist Calgary.

 Chris Clark and the Flames crashed the Red Wings' party in 2004.

2006 - The Detroit Red Wings lost in the first round to Cup Finalist Edmonton.
2007 - The Buffalo Sabres lost in the Conference Final to Ottawa. 
2008 - The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup.

Nicklas Lidstrom

2009 - The San Jose Sharks lost in the first round to 2007 Cup Champion Anaheim.

Fear not, more often than not, the Presidents' Trophy team does very well in the playoffs, but there are no guarantees (unless you're Mark Messier).

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