Caps latest Presidents' Trophy champs to go poof in playoffs
Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals became the latest in a long line of NHL teams to discover regular-season dominance doesn't translate into playoff prominence.
The Caps went from Presidents' Trophy winners in April to poof in May after being eliminated in Game 6 of their second-round playoff series to Pittsburgh.
"It's just kind of setting in right now that it's over," Capitals forward Jay Beagle said, following the 4-3 overtime loss on Tuesday night. "We had high expectations. The Cup was our goal all year and unfortunately we didn't (make it)."
They're not the only ones.
Since 2000, when the St. Louis Blues went from first in the standings to one-and-done in the playoffs, only four teams that finished the regular season with the best record have gone on to win the Stanley Cup: Chicago in 2013, Detroit in 2008 and '02, and Colorado in 2001.
Add in the Vancouver Canucks, who lost the 2011 Cup Final series in seven games to Boston, there have been just as many Presidents' Trophy-winners to reach the final round as have been eliminated in the first round: five each.
It's hardly any different in North America's three other major pro leagues, where finishing first just might be the worst.
A league-by-league glance:
Not since the 1986 New York Mets has a National League team won the World Series in the same season it finished with the best record in baseball.
The numbers are so skewed against winning a title, that the past six NL teams to finish with baseball's best record have failed to even reach the World Series. The last team to do that was the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals, who went 105-57, but were swept in four games by the Boston Red Sox.
On the American League side, of the past eight teams to post baseball's best record, only the 2013 Red Sox, 2009 Yankees and 2007 Red Sox have gone on to win the World Series.
And just once since 2000 have the first-place teams in each league met in the Fall Classic. It happened in 2013, when Boston (97-65) beat the Cardinals (97-65) in six games.
The trend has been much better in pro basketball.
Coming off an NBA-record setting 73-win season, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have an opportunity to become the fourth-straight team to win the championship after finishing with the best regular-season record. The Warriors (67-15) did in last year, as did the San Antonio (62-20) in 2014 and Miami (66-16) in 2013.
That said, only six regular-season champs have gone on to win the title since 2000, when the Los Angeles Lakers pulled the double.
The best record in football is hardly a sure-shot for a team to win the Super Bowl.
Just ask Tom Brady and the 2007 New England Patriots. After becoming the NFL's first team to win all 16 regular-season games, they lost the championship to the NFC's fifth-seeded New York Giants.
Only three times since 2000, have the top AFC and NFC seeds met in the Super Bowl. It happened in 2014, when New England beat Seattle; in 2013 when Seattle beat Denver; and in 2009 when New Orleans beat Indianapolis.
In that span, 11 conference champs have gone on to lose the Super Bowl. And yet, another 11 have failed to win their playoff opener.
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