It’s nearly that time of year: President’s Trophy favorites
Alright, this post may focus more on the silliness of divisions that it does on actual contenders for the President’s Trophy. The thing is, I don’t want to rag on the award too much, because demonstrating great regular season fortitude is to be admired and respected. It is just that that’s all it is–regular season fortitude. Recent winners, like the Canucks, Capitals and Sharks, have consistently failed to achieve the greatness expected of them in the post-season. They have been proven incapable of rising above in the later playoff rounds.
The favorites for this year are not wildly different than the favorites of last year. That is to say the Capitals and the Canucks are right on up there. The Sharks, Bruins and Penguins, and the Blackhawks too, are right up there. Barring some miracle, the Flyers may not be so esteemed for the title this year as they were last, mostly because the growing pains expected of them and their new roster could be significant. In the West, while the Red Wings are always a force, but I don’t see them contending next year for the President’s Trophy. That’s also just not their style. We’re only talking about the President’s Trophy there.
But let’s be straight: the Capitals and Canucks are odds-on favorites because they play in relatively weak conferences. Just look at off-season moves made by teams like Winnipeg, Colorado and Calgary. Not exactly threatening, eh? Then again, the Lightning are more ferocious than they’ve been in a long while and the Panthers, after their wheeling and dealing, likely can’t be steamrolled. The Capitals could have more of a battle this year during the regular season–but if Bruce Boudreau is to be believed, the regular season doesn’t matter to the club anymore. The post-season does. Also in the East, the Penguins will be the the always busy Atlantic, where earning your seed is hard work. The Bruins, just because they like to make things harder (or easier?) for themselves, probably aren’t in the picture.
What this brings us back to is the Canucks, and how their 100+ point campaign last season isn’t really surprising, nor should their defeat at the hands of the Bruins. They plowed through an easy division. When you’re playing four other weak teams six times a year, it really pads those win totals. They could easily win the President’s again this season without too much effort and without losing their sights on the post-season. But will it matter?