NHL

The Presidents Trophy curse continues with Capitals being eliminated by the Penguins

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Capitals

The Washington Capitals were the latest victims of the perceived ‘Presidents Trophy curse’ last night losing to the Penguins 4-3 in a game six overtime from Pittsburgh. To make matters worse for the Caps coming back from a three-goal deficit and potential momentum heading into a deciding game seven was wiped way by Nick Bonino at the 6:32 mark in the overtime to send the Penguins to the Eastern Conference Finals.

You’d think though in most circumstances that the best team throughout the regular season in any professional sports league getting eliminated in any round that wasn’t the respective final is an upset. Especially in the National Hockey League that has a seven game series to determine their playoff winners.

Except in the case of the NHL, the President’s Trophy has no barring on what really happens in the playoffs. In fact you’re probably better off not winning the President’s Trophy if you want to go with past odds.

Since the 1985-86 season when the award was first given out by the NHL (a total of 30 winners), eight of those winners actually went on to capture the Stanley Cup that particular season. The last team to do it was the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-13. Additionally, six Presidents’ Trophy winners have been knocked out in the opening round of the playoffs while 12 winners of the Presidents’ Trophy have lost within the first two rounds of the postseason.

Those are pretty staggering numbers all things considered.

So what gives?

Well I guess if you want to specifically look at the Washington Capitals, they’re just a team that doesn’t transition their regular season success to the playoffs. During the Alexander Ovechkin era (2005-06) the Capitals have eight playoff appearances but zero Stanley Cup Finals appearances. In fact during that stretch Washington hasn’t even made it to the Conference Finals something you really can’t put your finger on considering they have arguably the best player in the World.

Aside from the Capitals, there’s been other theories on the ‘Presidents’ Trophy curse’ such as the different style of play in the postseason as opposed to the regular season. Darren Eliot made mention that teams who win the Presidents’ Trophy may have benefitted from playing a different team every night, some of which aren’t playoff teams in the end and once the postseason rolls around the regular season champ falls victim to simply stiffer competition. Some of that stiffer competition too could come via a hot goaltender that can almost win a series by themselves.

Except in Washington’s case they played pretty stiff competition throughout the season considering four of the eight teams in the Metropolitan division finished the regular season with 100 points or more something no other division this season (East or West) was able to do. Not only that the Philadelphia Flyers were just four points away from the 100 mark.

But not to totally dismiss that stiffer competition theory in Washington’s case. Philadelphia taking them to six games probably stung the Caps a little, not to mention Braden Holtby being a completely different player against the Penguins than he was against the Flyers.

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