Since the 2012-13 NHL season, when the Chicago Blackhawks won the President’s Trophy and then the Stanley Cup, no other team can match. This season, the Florida Panthers were the best team in all of hockey, and they were sent home by their cross-state rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in the second round.
The President’s Trophy curse continues.
Florida Looked So Strong…
And then they didn’t. The regular season featured a franchise-defining year for the Panthers. They held a record of 58-18-6 for 122 points. This was the second most amount of points in the nine seasons since the last President’s Trophy winner won the cup. The 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning had 128 points and lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round.
For Florida, this season was a dominating year for them. They had all the makings of a solid team. All three levels, forward lines, defensive duos, and the goaltending, were superb in the regular season. But, once the schedule flipped to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it did not look like the same team.
The regular season was led by their scoring efforts, with 340 goals forced and a +94 goal differential. Those both led the entirety of the NHL by healthy margins. Aleksandar Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Anthony Duclair, and Jonathan Huberdeau each had 30+ goal seasons. Even at the blue-line, Aaron Ekblad added 15 goals of his own this season. Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling also had 10+ goal seasons as well. The scoring was coming from all areas of the ice, and it isn’t often you see four 30+ goal scorers from the forward group and three 10+ goal scorers from the blue line on the same team.
In net, Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight were the tandem. Led by Bobrovsky in the number one spot, each put up excellent starts. Bobrovsky was 39-7-3 in the regular season, with a save percentage of .913. Knight, who entered his full season of NHL play, was 19-9-3 with two shutouts. Each goaltender were key parts of giving the Panthers their historic run.
The Curse Continues
Since 2012-13, when the Chicago Blackhawks won the President’s Trophy and lifted the Stanley Cup, no other team has been able to do the same. It seems that having the home-ice advantage for the Playoffs is not exactly an advantage. It appears to be a curse.
Many great teams have won over the past nine seasons but couldn’t get it done. From the aforementioned 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning team that had a 21-point lead in the standings at the end of that season to the 2014-15 New York Rangers, who lost in the conference finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It certainly is an interesting thing. In other sports, the number one seed generates good results in the playoffs. But, the case goes astray when it comes to hockey. It really does go to show that the NHL playoffs are among the best in the four major US sports due to their randomness and mystery. Any team can take it, and it doesn’t matter if you are the best team in the NHL or a team that just got in with the final wildcard spot.