Nothing But (Playoff) Superstition

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In the coming week, the New York Rangers play Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington. Normally such a schedule would be meaningless to Canucks fans but with Vancouver tied for 1st in the league, the Rangers difficult schedule means the Canucks could repeat as Presidents’ Trophy winners. Ignoring the obvious home ice advantage this would bring throughout the playoffs, it is questionable whether there is any other significance in finishing first in the regular season. Canucks fans will surely remember such a benefit went to waste in the final round of last year’s playoffs. However, if the Canucks do indeed come away with the Presidents’ Trophy again this year, perhaps there is some significance in that.

We heard it all, last year. How teams like Montreal and Calgary won the Cup a year after hosting the Olympics. How teams that won the first two games of the final round nearly always won the Stanley Cup. When it comes to the NHL playoffs, people love ‘superstitions’ or as it boils down to, stats. So here’s something to think on ahead of time, IF the Canucks win the President’s Trophy.

A league-wide first place finish for Vancouver would be their second. Since the Presidents’ Trophy was introduced in the 1985-1986 season, six teams have won the trophy twice, Dallas, Colorado, Edmonton, Calgary, Detroit, and the New York Rangers. Though none of them won it after their first President’s Trophy,  all of them but Detroit won the Stanley Cup after their second Presidents’ Trophy.

To make things even more interesting, Dallas, Edmonton, Calgary and Detroit, are the only teams to have won the Presidents’ Trophy in consecutive years. Again, of those teams, all but Detroit won the Cup after bowing out the year before.

Now, obviously the exception here is Detroit and while you might brush them off as an anomaly, consider this. When Detroit won the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time, they too lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. They would go on to finish first in the league the following year as well, but would bow out in the Conference Finals.

Should the Canucks hold out for another first place finish, it will be interesting to see if they follow the path well traveled, or follow in the footsteps of the Red Wings and fall short yet again. Of course all this depends on us finishing first in the league.

And surely I’ve just gone and jinxed that.

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Matthew Low 

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