Ol’ Snowman is back and it’s time I hit the NHL. For that I begin with this disclaimer:
I’ve only been an NHL fan since 1989 and I still have a lot of research to catch up on with my history research with some players that have passed through the NHL. But I’m getting there. Now let’s get busy.
It seems like the Washington Capitals are on the minds of a lot of hockey fans as the Presidents Trophy winners and why not. 96 points overall, 46 wins in 62 games, and running away with the Eastern Conference regular season title and solidifying themselves as the top seed in the NHL if the playoffs were to end today.
Well, I would be satisfied with that. If it weren’t for this statement – it is RARE for a Presidents Trophy winner to couple it with the ultimate prize in the NHL and sports – the Stanley Cup.
How rare is it? The last team to complete this double play? They are the team that currently holds Lord Stanley’s Cup – The Chicago Blackhawks. The year was 2012-13 (Lockout shortened season, but the numbers apply). In fact in that year, the Hawks ran away with the Presidents Trophy with 77 points and then backed it up with a six-game conquest of the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.
But the Blackhawks themselves have been victimized by the lure of the PT – In the 1990-91 season when they captured the Norris Division (don’t you miss those division names hockey fans?) and were tops in the Campbell Conference, they garnered the most points in the NHL with 106. What happened in the playoffs? A first round loss to the Minnesota North Stars. Ugh!
Let’s rewind back to last year. The New York Rangers, one of the original six teams, racked up 113 points en route to the Presidents Trophy. And tops in the Metropolitan Division and NHL. And where did it get them when it counted? Into a struggle in the first round and eventually eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals. Period.
Now, let’s look at this year’s possible winner in the Capitals. Now you know ol’ Snowman likes to bring the numbers so let’s rewind back to the 2009-10 season. 121 points. Southeast Division Champions. Regular season Eastern Conference Champions. And then defeated in the Conference Quarterfinals by the Montreal Canadiens who erased a 3-1 series deficit.
The point? It’s not where you finish in April, it’s how you finish in June. And considering the fact that the Capitals lost to the Blackhawks in a nationally televised game this past Sunday, take all the points you want. But the Blackhawks got the message – they want to play in June – not finish up top in April. Because if you finish up top in points in April, you lose sight of the main goal – Lord Stanley. Which currently resides in Chicago and the way the champs are playing, it may reside in the Windy City for another year.
To stop this trend, the Capitals should have only one effective reply. IF they can figure it out. Until the Champs are defeated, the Presidents Trophy does not mean a thing.
That’s Snowman’s Take. What’s yours?