The Florida Panthers are having their best season in franchise history. With a 57-15-6 record through 78 games (120 points), they have the Eastern Conference locked up for the postseason. In addition to a league-best and franchise-record 13-game winning streak, the only thing left for the Panthers to clinch is their first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history.
They have a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche to lead the NHL standings; however, the Panthers may want to let this one slide and hand it over to the Avalanche, given the award’s history.
Presidents’ Trophy Winner has Only Won the Cup 3 Times Since 2001-02
Since the 2001-02 season, the Presidents’ Trophy winner has only gone on to win the Stanley Cup three times: the Detroit Red Wings twice in 2002 and 2008, and the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 are the most recent.
Related: Florida Panthers and the History of the Rats
That’s 15 of 18 teams over the last two decades to have their season regular-season dominance end without a Stanley Cup ring to add to their hardware.
The Last Floridian Team to Win the Trophy Ended Their Season on a Horrible Note
Most of us remember what happened to the last team from the Sunshine State to win the Presidents’ Trophy. In the 2019 Playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round. Interestingly, the starting goaltender for the Blue Jackets at the time was current Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (from “The record-setting Lightning were swept out of first round of the NHL playoffs in embarrassing fashion because of one big disadvantage,” Business Insider, 4/17/19).
While their success might also turn into back-to-back Cups, most Panthers fans do not want such a historical season to go down in flames, similar to their cross-state rivals that season.
A Push for the Presidents’ Trophy Could Risk Injury
The Panthers have faced a ton of injury adversity this season, including losing players like Aleksander Barkov for a small chunk of time and Aaron Ekblad for the last month of the regular season. The push for that extra piece of hardware could result in more players missing time. This month alone, forwards Noel Acciari and Ryan Lomberg missed some time, and Carter Verhaeghe is now expected to skip a few games as well.
Granted, they’ve been getting healthy as of late, but risking injury this close to the postseason is a bad idea. They should use the next week to rest their players as they’ve already clinched everything in the Eastern Conference to this point.
Panthers Should Rest Up for the Playoffs
The postseason is brutal and unforgiving regardless of who plays who. The officials will miss a lot more calls than usual, and players tend to play grittier. With that in mind, the Panthers need to go into the postseason with a full deck of cards.
Related: Panthers’ Giroux Loving His New Team
Of course, it would be the cherry on the sundae to add the Presidents’ Trophy to such a remarkable season for a team that hasn’t had this much success since the mid-’90s. But if the trophy is arguably “cursed”, it isn’t worth the extra hassle and should not be the focus of this season. The only shiny piece that should be on the minds of the Cats is the Stanley Cup. With all the success and the pieces brought in at the trade deadline, they have the tools and the mental toughness to go for a deep playoff run at the very least.