In front of hundreds of thousands of television viewers, as well as a packed house at Rogers Arena including The Green Men and the Hockey Lovin’ Homo, the Vancouver Canucks won the President’s Trophy Thursday night with a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Play-by-play man John Shorthouse declared via Sportsnet that the Canucks now “ruled the roost,” whatever he intended by that. It’s no April Fool’s joke. The Vancouver Canucks, a team plagued by the collective curses of Dan Cloutier, Mark Messier, Gilbert Perreault and everybody who played in the 80s, are the best team in hockey.
If you’re a Vancouver Canucks fan, this is good news. It is also good to note that the team has a chance to finish first in goals for, goals against, powerplay and penalty kill percentage for the first time in expansion era. While the team will likely finish below Washington’s 121-point mark last season (all they can do is tie it) the Canucks are probably in a better place to be competing in the playoffs than last season’s Capitals, despite hearing all year that the two teams are similar.
The 2010 Capitals finished the best record in the league, although they had just 43 wins in regulation (the Canucks are already at 45) and 11 of their wins came in 4-on-4 overtime or a shootout, mediums that don’t transfer to playoff hockey. While I believe that they ran into some viciously bad luck against Montreal last year, I don’t think that they had the goaltending or penalty killing to make an impressive run without a string of good luck.
It created a simple narrative, however. Some teams are built for the regular season, and others are built for the playoffs.
This is all bunk, of course. I wrote on Nucks Misconduct a few weeks back offering that teams with higher regular season point totals fare better than teams with lower point totals in a 7-game series.
The only President’s Trophy Stanley Cup winner since the lockout were the Detroit Red Wings in 2008. They are also the only President’s Trophy winner in that span to lead the league in goals against average, but none of that really matters. The more apt comparison between the ’11 Canucks and the ’08 Red Wings is that both were labelled by fans and media as “playoff chokers”. Both organizations stuck with the same core players moving forward and turned that into great success.
Great success. The Canucks are the best team in hockey today, and managed it all with six games to spare.