The National Hockey League annually gives out a trophy to the team that accumulates the most points during the regular season; called The Presidents Trophy. Unfortunately, that award does not guarantee the trophy winner does well in the post-season. In fact, just the opposite occurs…more often than not.
New York’s Rangers, winner of the 2014-15 Presidents Trophy, is the latest team to fall short of getting into the Stanley Cup Finals. The biggest perk of winning the Presidents Trophy is gaining home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. That did not work out so well for the Rangers as they lost three home games in the Conference finals.
In the past 13 years, only two teams that won the Presidents Trophy have gone on to win the Stanley Cup: the 2013 Chicago Black Hawks and the 2008 Detroit Red Wings. The Vancouver Canucks won the Presidents Trophy two years’ running…in 2011 and 2012. Their reward? They lost to Boston in 2011 in the Finals, and were ousted by the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals, in 2012.
Another group struggling in the post-season are the Canadian-based teams. The last Canadian team to make the Finals was the aforementioned Canucks, in 2011. Prior to that, the last Canadian team to go all the way to the Finals was the Ottawa Senators, in 2007, losing to the Anaheim Ducks. The last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup was Montreal, in 1993…that is 22 long years ago! That is the longest drought by Canadian teams…ever! In fact, Canadian teams won seven consecutive Cups, from 1984 through 1990.
For the Tampa Bay Lightning, they are making their second-ever trip to the Finals…in 2004, they won the Cup by edging the Calgary Flames in seven games. The hero of this year’s Eastern Conference finals was Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, an American-born player, who shut out the Rangers for the second straight time…in Madison Square Garden! The whitewash in game 7 came just three days after Bishop allowed FIVE goals and lost for the eighth time in the playoffs. He did, however, rise to the task in the series clincher…stopping all 22 shots.
They will be opposed by the Chicago Black Hawks, trying to win their third Stanley Cup in the past six years. Some Chicago-based talk show “expert” got a little excited on the air this morning, and was boasting about the Black Hawks becoming a dynasty…with three Cups in six years??? Really???!!! When the Chicagoans win four Cups in a row, like the New York Islanders, from 1980-1983, or the Montreal Canadiens, from 1976-1979 AND five in a row, from 1956-1960, then you can talk to me about a dynasty!
Tampa Bay will have home-ice advantage, but in this year’s playoffs, that has not meant a thing! Chicago won two games on the road in the Western Conference finals, while the Lightning won their final two games on the road in the East…both shutouts! Chicago definitely has the experience but the one constant in this year’s playoffs, is that you need to expect the unexpected!