Here’s an interesting statistic with the playoffs in full swing: In the 29 seasons in which the Presidents’ Trophy has been awarded to the team with the best record in the NHL, only eight winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. Three others reached the final round but lost.
In that time, the NBA team with the best record reached the finals 16 times and produced 14 champions. Only one NBA team seeded lower than third, the eighth-seeded Knicks in 1998-99, have even reached the finals since the sixth-seeded Rockets won it all in 1994-95.
The NHL over the same period had 15 teams play for the Cup after finishing fourth or worse in the conference. Four won championships. In 2011-12, the Kings slipped into the playoffs as an eighth seed and beat the sixth-seeded Devils for the title. That’s the beauty of the NHL playoffs.
Washington had the best record in the NHL this season, but the Capitals could very well fall well short. In the past decade, four Presidents’ Trophy winners lost in the first round while only two won the Cup. Unlike the NBA, the NHL postseason is unpredictable from the first round to the last.