This week has been very kind to the Washington Capitals. On Monday night, the Caps clinched the Presidents’ Trophy, an award given to the team with the most points in the regular season. On Friday night, Washington recorded their 55th win of the season, a new franchise record, after defeating the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. This sandwiched a 2-1 loss in a shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers, but the Caps were still able to obtain a point.
While the Presidents’ Trophy might seem like a great feat, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for the team that wins in. Only eight teams have won both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season. This is the second time in franchise history that the Caps have won the Trophy, but they are hoping to not see what happened to them in the playoffs that year. Washington was bounced from the first round by the 8-seeded Montreal Canadians in seven games.
Some believe the Trophy is cursed, which the Caps could agree with in the 2009-2010 playoffs. The last team to win both the Trophy and the Cup in the same season was the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-2013. The last time a team won the Trophy and lost in the Stanley Cup Finals was the Vancouver Canucks in 2010-2011.
Washington net minder Braden Holtby is on the verge of history. With the win Friday night, Holtby locked up his 47th win of the season, which ties him with Bernie Parent and Roberto Luongo for the second most wins in a season in NHL history. He is one game away from tying the great Martin Brodeur, who set the mark in the 2006-2007 season, the same season Luongo posted his 47 victories. Holtby has to win two games in the Caps final five remaining to set the new record. It is unknown whether or not Holtby will play tonight when the Caps visit the Arizona Coyotes.
Also in the game against the Avalanche, Alex Ovechkin found the back of the net for the 45th time this season, which is the most in the NHL. He scored on a power play in the second period, his 19th power play goal of the season. This marks the eighth time in his career he has scored at least 45 goals.
Neither team was able to light the lamp in the first period, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort by the Caps, as they had numerous shots hit the iron and Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov made some key saves. Washington made up for it in the second period by scoring three goals.
Center Jay Reagle made a defensive play behind the Colorado net before sneaking the puck past Varlamov to put the Caps up 1-0 at the 8:50 mark of the second. Ovechkin’s power play goal made the score 2-0 at the 12:57 mark and over a minute later, Jason Chimera netted his 19th goal of the season to put his team up 3-0. With under a minute left in the period, Jerome Iginla scored his 20th goal of the season to end the chances of a shutout.
At the 14:21 mark of the final period, Colorado inched closer to closing the gap when Gabriel Landeskog scored his 20th goal of the season. The Caps were unable to add insurance until T.J. Oshie scored his 25th goal of the season with an empty net. Holtby finished the game with 17 saves while his counterpart, Varlamov, posted 43 saves of his own.
The history aspects are great accomplishments, but the Caps still have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. This team has been the best team all season long and will look to continue that in a couple weeks once the postseason gets underway. These players will be doing everything they can in order to erase past postseason failures.