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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.
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TIME TO BREAK THE CURSE
The foregone conclusion reached the finish line on Monday. The Washington Capitals, unofficially crowned as the best team in the NHL months ago, finally clinched the Presidents' Trophy as the team with the best record in the league this year. No team has clinched the award this early in 14 years.
The Presidents' Trophy comes with baggage these days. Only two Presidents' Trophy winners since 2002-03 have gone on to win the Stanley Cup (Detroit in '07-'08, Chicago in '12-'13) and only three have even reached the Stanley Cup Finals. Call it a curse if you wish, but it likely has more to do with the unpredictability of the playoffs than anything.
Throw in the Capitals' own playoff baggage and you have a narrative ripe for the picking. But there's reason to believe they're capable of becoming the third team to win the regular season and the Stanley Cup since 2003. An elite goaltender, truly developed secondary scoring threats and a strong commitment to team defense under Barry Trotz give them an edge other recent Presidents' Trophy winners haven't had.
NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR THE NHL
- If you read anything today, make sure it's the TSN report on the unsealed emails between Gary Bettman and NHL execs about concussions. The discussions are far more candid than you might expect, including Bettman taking shots at the NFL and making jokes about concussions.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT
- Washington's win on Monday was probably telegraphed anyway considering their opponent.
- The man known as Ghost Bear saved the Flyers again.
- The only problem? The Red Wings kept pace with a win of their own, thanks in no small part to this video game goal from Riley Sheahan.
- Both are tied at 87 points with about six games to go. Their matchup in Detroit next Wednesday looms large.
- Of course, that's not the only race in the East. Ben Bishop sparkled in a shutout win to help the Lightning pull even with Florida atop the Atlantic.
- You're not going to believe this, but someone beat the Predators last night. I know. Shocking.
- And Colorado tried so hard to blow their lead and lose to them.
- San Jose became the latest team to punch their playoffs ticket.
- We're about to have a Canada-less playoffs for the first time in 46 years.
- St. Louis Gametime uses six key metrics to figure out the Blues' true momentum as the playoffs approach.
- NHL team nominees for the Masterton Trophy started rolling out yesterday, and we've got them all right here.
- Losing to the Avs wasn't even the most depressing thing to happen to Nashville last night. Highly-touted prospect Jimmy Vesey reneged on his agreement to sign with them and will become an unrestricted free agent.
- Jonathan Quick made the save of the year.