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Morning Skate: The Capitals can break the Presidents' Trophy curse

They inherited the curse on Monday.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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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

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