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Avs Beat Sharks in OT, Caps Win Presidents’ Trophy

The Colorado Avalanche just squeezed by the San Jose Sharks last night with an overtime victory of 5-4.  Right now the Avs are holding on to a 2 point lead (plus game in hand) over their division rivals the Calgary Flames.  So how did two games mean so much for so many teams? 

Game 1: 2 teams played, 5 teams affected
Yesterday afternoon the Chicago Blackhawks played the Calgary Flames.  Defeating the Flames meant the Hawks would clinch the division for the first time in 17 years.  And did they ever do a number on Jarome Iginla and his team.  The Hawks beat the Flames 4-1, securing their home ice advantage for the first round or two, & bringing hockey back to the Windy City.  So the Hawks clinched their division, the Flames’ playoff chances took another hit, but who else was affected by this W?  For starters, Detroit was hoping to clinch the division but it is now mathematically impossible to do so.  How about the Avalanche?  They got a little help in their playoff aspirations when Calgary was finished off in regulation.  Anyone else affected?  Why yes, that would be the long shot chance the St. Louis Blues were hoping for.  A Flames loss meant that the Blues had a small chances to get to the playoff dance.  While it’s doubtful the Blues can win enough to make the playoffs, fans were definitely taking notice of this game & another game.

Game 2: 2 teams played, 5 teams affected
The Avalanche had hit an icy patch followed by a long, long, skid.  While it wasn’t their worst losing streak, it was definitely an inopportune time to have it.  Losing three followed by a victory followed by four L’s did nothing to help the Avalanche’s playoff hopes.  Just when many fans & critics alike had all but written the team off the Avs got a little help from the Chicago Blackhawks.  Then their young players stepped it up again.  Showing such heart, enthusiasm, & energy for such a young team was quite impressive.  Not going down without a fight, the Sharks tied it up forcing overtime.  Liles scored the game winner in OT on a power play & fans & teams around the country cheered or cried.  Flames & Blues fans cringed, Hawks, Coyotes, Canucks fans smiled, & Capitals fans celebrated their first ever Presidents’ Trophy.  The Avalanche had much to celebrate as well, the Win gave the team some confidence back & helped their playoff shot.  What they didn’t celebrate was Rob Blake’s nasty hit on Peter Mueller (2 goals & 1 assist last night).  Mueller had not touched the puck when Blake hit him & is now staying at home while the team travels to Vancouver & Edmonton as he is out indefinitely with a concussion.  Avs fans felt torn, Rob Blake had been with the organization when the Avs won their second Cup, many still love & respect him.  Peter Mueller just came to the Avs but has helped revive this young team by stepping in & providing big goals in big games.  His absence will definitely be felt.

The Presidents’ Trophy Winner is: The Washington Capitals
Colorado’s win over the San Jose Sharks’ gave the Capitals a reason to smile.  With the OT loss the Sharks will not be able to catch the Caps in points this season, at least not before the playoffs start.  What does Washington get for winning the Presidents’ Trophy?  Plenty, including home ice advantage the entire playoffs (unless they get eliminated) & a $350,000 bonus. 

Presidents’ Trophy Curse?
Since it’s introduction in 1985 the winner of the Presidents’ Trophy has won the Stanley Cup 7 times.  4 times the winner of the Presidents’ Trophy lost in the first round of the playoffs, 2 times the winner of the trophy lost in the Stanley Cup finals, & the remaining 10 times the team lost in either the division or conference final.

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