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The Most Shocking Recent Stanley Cup Playoff Exits By Presidents’ Trophy Winners

With the Boston Bruins losing their first-round series to the Florida Panthers, it’s been ten years since a Presidents’ Trophy winner lifted the Stanley Cup in the same season.

The last team to do it? The 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks. Forward Patrick Kane led the way for Chicago, recording nine goals and ten assists during their playoff run.

Since then, President Trophy winners have seemed to be cursed. Two of the last five winners have gone home in the opening round of the playoffs, while none have advanced past the second round since the New York Rangers in 2015.

With the Bruins hitting the golf course, here are three other Presidents’ Trophy winners with disappointing playoff exits since 2010.

Back-to-Back Disappointing Seasons

After losing in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins the season before (also as Presidents’ Trophy winners), the Capitals were a cup-favorites for the 2016-17 season.

Washington finished the regular season with a 55-19-8 record and 118 points. Alexander Ovechkin led the league with 49 goals and was 11th in total points.

In the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Capitals faced Toronto. They would the Maple Leafs in six games, setting up a round two match with the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

After dropping the first two games of the series, the Capitals fought back to force a game seven. After a scoreless first 20 minutes, Bryan Rust put Pittsburgh on the board midway through the second period. Patric Hornqvist would net another in the third, as the Penguins won 2-0.

Fans in Washington wouldn’t have to wait long to see the Capitals lift the Stanley Cup. The team won it the year after, defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in the final.

One Game Short Of Stanley Cup Glory

The Vancouver Canucks were the NHL’s best regular season team during the 2010-11 season. They ended with 54 wins, 19 losses, and nine overtime losses for 117 points.

In the opening round of the playoffs, Vancouver beat the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games. The Canucks advanced to play Nashville in round two. They defeated the Predators in six games. Then, the team rolled past the San Jose Sharks in five games to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Vancouver opened the final series with two home wins over the Boston Bruins. They then dropped the next two games in Boston. The home team would win games five and six, forcing a thrilling game seven showdown.

Boston’s Brad Marchand scored the game’s opening goal 14 minutes into the first period, and the Bruins never looked back. Marchand would score two more times in a 4-0 Boston win. The loss sent Vancouver into a riot which caused approximately $9 million in damages.

First Round Upset

In 2019, hockey fans were shocked when the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the Presidents’ Trophy winner Tampa Bay Lighting in their first-round series.

The Lightning finished the 2018-19 campaign with a 62-16-4 record and 128 points. Brayden Point was tied for sixth in the NHL with 41 goals, while Nikita Kucherov led the league with 128 points. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had a 2.40 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.

When it came time for the playoffs, Tampa Bay failed to show up and got swept in the opening round. The Lightning were also outscored 19-8 by the Blue Jackets. It was one of the most embarrassing playoff performances by a President’s Trophy winner.

However, the disappointment was short-lived as the Lightning won two of the next three Stanley Cups, cementing themselves as one of the NHL’s best-run teams.

Final Thoughts

The 2022-23 Boston Bruins are the most successful regular season team in NHL history. They were heavy favourites not only to beat the Panthers in the series but also to lift the Stanley Cup. Their opening-round playoff loss is the most disappointing loss by a President’s Trophy winner in recent memory.

Trades for Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway and Tyler Bertuzzi at the NHL trade deadline made Boston seem like a super team. In the end, it was all for naught. With an aging core and a lack of selections over the next two drafts, it could be a while before the Bruins are Cup contenders again.



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