Monday, April 5, 2010

Our Capitol has a New President

Somewhat buried in all of the excitement surrounding the McNabb trade last night is the fact that the San Jose Sharks lost to the Colorado Avalanche, causing the Capitals to clinch the first Presidents' Trophy in franchise history. The award is for the best record in the regular season, but we all know the Caps true goals lie in the post-season. The statistics for Presidents' Trophy winners are not in their favor: only 7 teams that won the award went on the win the Stanley Cup and no team has ever won the Cup after winning the Presidents' Trophy for the first time. However, this is not a Caps team that has accepted limits this season, with a franchise record in wins (51), road wins (23), and points (114). They also had a 14-game winning streak, best in franchise history and tied for third longest in the history of the NHL. Every barrier they have come across they have shattered, and this could be no different. This team still has yet to prove their worth in the post-season. It is frustrating to have, statistically, the best team in hockey and still hear criticisms and doubts about their playoff ability. But the playoffs are a different story, and until the Caps make a deep run or win a Cup, those worries are always going to be there.

Losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions in a heartbreakingly epic seven game series last year did this team a lot of good. You have to lose in order to know how to win, and with some key additions last summer and trades throughout the season, the Caps have been winning. A lot. They have a maturity they never needed to have before. All of their young, somewhat naive players got a taste of victory in the post season with a first round victory over the New York Rangers. And this spring they'll be back for more. Anything short of the finals would be considered a disappointment, and the Caps won't be fully satisfied until they have a parade down Constitution Ave. Until that parade, they will have to answer questions about defense and goaltending. The only way to shut up their critics is to win hockey's Holy Grail, and this team is more than eager to hear that silence.

Divison: check
Conference: check
League: check

Only one goal left to make this the most successful team in the franchise's 35 year history.

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