[This is the second post in a series that focuses on the conversation behind the issue with Andrew Tomlinson and Alex Perlmutter. The President’s Trophy and what it really means in the grand scheme of things is the focus of today’s discussion.]
Andrew, thinking back to last year’s playoff nosedive I can’t help but wonder why President’s Trophy winners are so unlucky come the postseason. Only seven Prez winners since 1986 have drank from the Cup in June. Oh, and Washington is not the only team to falter early as regular season champs. Detroit did it five years ago against 2006 Stanley Cup finalist Edmonton (and the former is a perennial Cup contender). I wonder if a fantastic two-way team like Vancouver will misstep considering their similar level of playoff experience as the Caps. Does a healthy Vancouver make it all the way, or even past the second round? I am getting ahead of myself here, but do this year’s Caps have a chance in a possible Cup Final with the British Columbians?
To me, the President’s Trophy is a meaningless trophy that no other sports offers. You don’t see teams getting trophies for winning the NFL or MLB regular season. In fact, I don’t really know anyone who can name NFL or MLB regular season champions.
The main reason ‘teams that win the President’s Trophy are so susceptible to early postseason exits is because winning the trophy takes a lot out of a team. Constantly fighting for that top spot doesn’t allow a team to rest their players or even look ahead to the postseason, they are so focused on now. You mention the Red Wings as a team that failed to win it all after capturing the elusive trophy, but I think they are actually one of the few exceptions. No, it is not because I am from Detroit, but it is because they are the last team to win the regular season and the post season.
In regards to this years chances for a Caps – Nucks final, anything can happen, but I would vote against it. Vancouver has problems in net during the postseason and with injuries. Luongo has never been stellar in the post season, though he’s certainly one of the best in the league. I think Vancouver is a team to watch out for, but could be a victim in the early rounds.
Washington has a unique problem as well: they are still young and they need to make a decision in net. Regardless of whether it is Varly, Neuvy or Holtby in net, they need to get prepared. Goalies need to play more than a handful of games in a row to get ready for the grueling postseason. Also, many former players say the team needs to “grow up” and that it has been a problem for them for a while. If they can’t figure out how to focus, or someone like Arnott can’t tell them how to, I expect an early exit. Which, despite what Mr. Leonsis says, it is 100% Stanley Cup or bust this year.
I think someone put something in your coffee if you think the Canucks are going to tumble early, especially to a Nashville, Anaheim or Dallas. Calgary is the only team I see even taking them to seven games in the first round. That said, the Capitals are on Philly’s heals for top spot in the East and would potentially have home ice advantage in the first three playoff rounds. That hasn’t helped them in the past and neither will looking at the lower seeds in the East. All of them boast Vezina-worthy or -winning goalies. That scares me, considering Ovechkin called out Jaroslav Halak on his trembling hand last spring and from that point on it was lights out Montreal.
Right now Washington is lined up to face the Rangers in a 2009 first round rematch; taking into account the two blowouts (and three out of four wins) they authored on the good guys, it’s not going to get any easier to beat them come April. My personal preference would be to take the inconsistent Carolina or under-performing Buffalo, but I suspect that won’t happen.
I mean we say that every year about the first place team in the league don’t we? Said that about the Caps last year, the Sharks the year before, the Wings in 2006 the list goes on and on. I think the other thing that comes with the President’s Trophy is the lack of adversity. It is always the catch phrase of the post season, “over coming adversity,” but it is so true. It is hard to learn how to win after you lose, and not just lose, but being punched in the mouth. A tough season of a combination of losses and wins, allows a team to learn that they can never let up no matter how many games they are up in a series.
When you talk about seedings, I am just fine with a two seed, heck I am just fine with a four. Let’s remember the year Pittsburgh won, they were not a top seed in the playoffs. A top seed comes with added pressure and expectations. I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure those are two things the Caps don’t need this post season.
A lower seed would also mean the Caps have a better shot at missing the two team’s that scare me the most this postseason and that is the Sabers and Rangers. In the playoffs, a goalie can steal a series. Let’s remember J.S. Giguire a few years back, or even Halak last year, who stole just about three series. In fact, I may be more scared of Buffalo than New York. I have said that to several people and they ask why and I just respond with, “Did you miss the Olympics?” Ryan Miller is a beast and Buffalo got bit by a lot of guys not playing well at the same time. If they get it together, watch out because they could very well make a run.
Personally, I want the Penguins or Montreal or even the Flyers. I do not want anything to do with goalies that could get hot. The Caps seem to make a habit of making goalies look really good in important games.
[That is all for this edition. Whether you agree or disagree with our opinions, feel free to add your own below and continue the discussion.]