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When Being the 1st To Clinch a Spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs Means Nothing


CEDAvsFan

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So I saw this pic on Instagram today, and thought, "I may as well talk about this." So here it is:

 

 

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NHL Europe's IG account posted this pic listing the first team(s) to clinch spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The list begins with the 2008-09 season and lists 14 occurrences (omitting the 2019-20 season because it was hampered by the pandemic), while asking who will have the honor of being the first to clinch a spot in this year's playoffs. As I looked at this list, it brought back memories of each year, especially with one attribute:  almost none of these teams went on to win the Stanley Cup in their respective seasons. Amazing, isn't it? The NHL has always been a free-for-all as far as long runs are concerned, and this proves it. Here's how each of these teams fared:

2009:  Sharks (won Presidents' Trophy) lost in the first round; Red Wings lost Cup Final

2010:  Capitals (won Presidents' Trophy) lost in the first round

2011:  Canucks (won Presidents' Trophy) lost Game Seven of Cup Final

2012:  Blues lost in the second round

2013:  Penguins lost Eastern Conference Final; Blackhawks (won Presidents' Trophy) won Stanley Cup

2014:  Bruins lost in the second round

2015:  Rangers (won Presidents' Trophy) lost Eastern Conference Final

2016:  Capitals (won Presidents' Trophy) lost in the second round

2017:  Capitals (won Presidents' Trophy) lost in the second round

2018:  Predators (won Presidents' Trophy) lost in the second round

2019:  Lightning (won Presidents' Trophy) swept in first round

2021:  Golden Knights lost Stanley Cup Semifinal

2022:  Panthers (won Presidents' Trophy) swept in second round

2023:  Bruins (won Presidents' Trophy) lost in first round

Out of 14 instances, 2013 is the only time where the team (or in this case, one of the teams) who clinched the first spot in the playoffs went on to win the Cup. Coincidentally, it was also the last time at the team who won the Presidents' Trophy (for finishing with the NHL's best record) went on to win the Stanley Cup. It's absolutely amazing. In other leagues, the first team to clinch a playoff spot usually (at least) reaches the championship round. The San Francisco 49ers did just that this year; they were the first team to clinch a spot, and here they are in the Super Bowl. On this list, only one team won the whole thing, and out of the 13 who didn't, only two reached the Cup Final. Amazing how wide open the NHL is.

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1 hour ago, GMileyCollier78 said:

Usually when I hear of the first team to gt a spot in the playoffs, I think "championship team".

Same. Teams like that usually end up finishing with the best record in the league and have a great chance of winning the whole thing.

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3 hours ago, GMileyCollier78 said:

Usually when I hear of the first team to gt a spot in the playoffs, I think "championship team".

As he said, it doesn't always end that way. 

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23 hours ago, Philip Gipson said:

This is a brilliant assessment on how things in the Stanley Cup Playoffs operate.

I agree. He's got a brilliant hockey brain.

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