Can the President stop the Tampa Bay Lightning?

by Gary Shelton on March 11, 2019 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Cooper's team will try to defy the odds./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

Lord Stanley walked under ladders, and along the way, he stepped on a black cat.

There were broken mirrors on his route, which was lined by voodoo dolls.  The horseshoes were hanging upside down. The salt shaker was tipped over. As historians may recall, it all happened on Friday the 13th.

The league is cursed, you know.

Or, at least, the best team in it is.

As the Tampa Bay Lighting closes in on the President's Trophy, they might want to keep this in mind: it's like handling a live grenade. President's Trophy winners always seem to trip over their own skates in the playoffs. Nine of the last 10 winners have lost in the

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playoffs (Chicago won in a strike-shortened season), and 15 of the last 17. In all, only eight of the 32 winners (since 1985-86) have won both the President's Trophy and the Stanley Cup.

What does that say about the Trophy?

What does that say about the president?

This is becoming quite the concern locally, of course. The Lightning is 15 points ahead of the field for the President's Trophy with just 13 games to play. If the Lightning split the available points remaining, a tailspin to be sure, they'd still finish with 121 points. Boston would have to pick up 29 points in its last 14 games to pass them.

Oh, there are theories. A hot goaltender. A seven-game series. Tighter officiating. But the fact remains that time after time, a team has proven to be the class of the league in the regular season and nothing much at all in the post-season. The last three, and four of the last five, President's Trophy winners have lost in the second round. Six winners lost in the first round.

A glance in the rear-view at the last 10 President's Cup Winners:

2008-09 San Jose Sharks: 117 points. Lost, first round. The Sharks, led by Patrick Marleau's 38 goals, won the Pacific Division by 26 points and clinched the President's Trophy in Game 80. But in the playoffs, they lost to Anaheim is six games. In the last three, the Sharks scored just three goals.

2009-10 Washington Capitols: 121 points. Lost, first round. Washington won 14 straight games during the regular season, scoring 313 goals on the season. They won the President's Trophy with four games to play. In the playoffs, however, they lost a seven-game series to eighth-seeded Montreal despite holding a 3-1 series lead.

2010-11 Vancouver Canucks: 117 points. Lost, Stanley Cup finals. The Canucks came close, losing in seven games to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. Still, it was disappointing. The Canucks led the league in most goals scored and fewest allowed and clinched the President's Trophy with four games to play. They led 2-0 and 3-2 in the final game of the series.

2011-12 Vancouver Canucks: 111 points. Lost, first round. Not many teams have won two straight President's Trophies, but Vancouver did on April 5 against Calgary. Still, the Canucks were bounced from the playoffs by the L.A. Kings in the first round.

2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks  77 points (shortened season). Won, Stanley Cup. Chicago beat Boston in six games to become the first President's Trophy winner since Detroit in 2007. Teams played just 48 games that season. Chicago clinched the President's Trophy with three games to play.

2013-14 Boston Bruins 117 points. Lost, second round.  The Bruins finished 16 points ahead of the second-place Lightning. They clinched the President's Trophy in the next-to-last game of the season.  In the second round of the playoffs, they lost in seven games to Montreal.

2014-15 New York Rangers 113 points. Lost, Conference finals. The Rangers were ousted in the conference finals in a seven-game series against the Lightning. That Rangers team had Marty St. Louis and future Bolts Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.

2015-16 Washington Capitals, 120 points. Lost, second round. Before last season, the Caps were hockey's great underachievers. They were terrors in 2015-16 but lost in the second round to Pittsburgh.

2016-17 Washington Capitals, 118 points: Lost, second round. It was almost a repeat of the season before. The Caps won the President's Trophy with 118 points but lost in the second round to Pittsburgh.

2017-18 Nashville Predators, 117 points. The Preds looked like a good bet going into the playoffs with Pekka Rinne in goal. But they lost to the Winnipeg Jets in seven games.



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