Alright, let’s do the bad news first: The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals lost in a second round Game 7 to the Penguins for the second straight season. It was a less-than-ideal outcome after fighting back from down three games to one.
But here’s the good news!: The loss helped extend D.C. sports’ futility to 67 consecutive seasons without one of the four major franchises reaching the conference or league finals. Thanks to Cal Ripken, we are programmed to believe all streaks are good.
That's bad, isn't it? pic.twitter.com/gOS1AtQoSq
— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) May 11, 2017
The last time a team reached the final four of its respective sport was 1998, when the Capitals lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Red Wings.
Since then it’s been a 19-year dumpster fire with playoff appearances by team breaking down thusly:
Nationals: 3 (only since 2005)
While the Wizards and Redskins have been far more futile than the Nats and Caps (they’ve had 11 and 10 losing seasons since ’98, respectively), an argument could be made the the D.C. hockey team has been the most heartbreaking.
The Capitals have made the postseason nine of the last 10 seasons, and they aren’t just backing into the playoffs. Every one of those nine seasons they finished in first or second place. They had 100+ points in six of those years. They’ve repeatedly been a dominating team that has flamed out in April and May.
But in hockey being a dominating regular season team doesn’t necessarily mean much. Since the Presidents’ Trophy started being awarded in 1985-86, only eight of the 31 winners have hoisted the Cup. That means the best team in the NHL has about a 25 percent chance of winning it all. By comparison, the NFL team with the best regular season record since 1986 has won the Super Bowl 13 times, or 42 percent of the time.
What can we learn from all this? Well, that Caps squad that was the last D.C. team to reach a conference final was a 4-seed. So, I dunno, maybe they should try being not as good in the regular season? Yeah, that’ll probably work.