The Caps have 88 points already. That’s seven more than any other team in the league and 15 more than any other team in their conference. They’re basically the Warriors of hockey, running away with the regular season.
Of course, this year’s Warriors already have a championship under their belt, so the Caps are more like last year’s Warriors, is what I’m saying. Or at least I hope they are.
Ovechkin is Curry and Backstrom is Klay. Kutzy is Draymond. Justin Williams is Iguadola? That’s about as far as I can go with this, except Trotz is Kerr and Holtby is Bogut, the protector.
Washington looks like a lock for the 1 seed in the East and will probably be the No. 1 team in all of hockey heading into the playoffs. Problem is the Ovi-era Caps have been the 1 seed a couple of times before, and it didn’t go very well. They were the top team in the East in 2009-10 and 2010-11, losing in the first and second rounds, respectively. (Sorry to bring up old shit.)
Is that unusual, though? For 1 seeds to bow out early? No. Over the last 10 years, here’s how the NHL’s 1 seeds have fared …
2015: Rangers and Ducks both lost in the conference finals
2014: Bruins lost in second round, Ducks lost in second round
2013: Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, Penguins lost in conference finals
2012: Canucks lost in first round, Rangers lost in conference finals
2011: Canucks lost in Stanley Cup finals, Caps lost in second round
2010: Caps lost in first round, Sharks lost in conference finals
2009: Sharks lost in first round, Bruins lost in second round
2008: Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, Canadiens lost in second round
2007: Sabres and Red Wings both lost in the conference finals
2006: Red Wings lost in first round, Senators lost in second round
As the emphasis shows, only twice in the past 10 years has a 1 seed hoisted the Cup. Twice in 10 years or twice out of 20 teams that have earned 1 seeds — either way, not great!
Over that decade-long period, the typical 1 seed won 1.5 series — advancing to somewhere between second round and conference finals. So only slightly better than the average playoff team in general? (Though significantly better than the average Caps playoff team.)
We all know the hockey postseason is a bit of a crapshoot — who’s got the hot goalie, who’s got grit, who gets lucky. But this is ridiculous.
The 1 seed is meaningless, and these Caps almost certainly won’t enjoy the happy ending Golden State did in 2015. Make it fun while it lasts.
Update: Boswell wrote about the Caps and found some similar-but-sunnier stats, as Boswell does. The key points I’ll share here are a) the team with the best regular season record has won the Cup in eight of the past 28 seasons, which is better than two of the past 10, and b) four of the previous five teams with a goal-differential about as good as the Caps (factoring in strength of schedule) have won the Cup, which is very Warriors.
(Image taken with love from old school D.C. Sports Bog.)