Colorado’s Avalanche of Expectations

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Colorado’s Avalanche of Expectations

Hockey can be a cruel sport for those really attached to seeing the end result for your favorite team. The Colorado Avalanche, who top sportsbooks have as the favorite to list the Stanley Cup at +450, are in the midst of a strong run of play. But as anyone who tries to predict a NFL Draft would tell you, expect the unexpected once the playoffs start.

The Avalanche may be battling superstition, in addition to their opponents, on the way to trying to win a championship. Colorado is in the lead for the Presidents’ Trophy, which is awarded to the team that finishes the regular season with the most points. The Avalanche, who lost in the second round of the playoffs after winning the trophy year, will try to become the first team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and Stanley CUp since the Chicago Blackhawks did in 2012-13. 

where teams can be unfamiliar with their opponents, the Avalanche will have to battle through divisional and conference foes familiar with their act before ever making the finals. Here’s a look at some of the history of the Presidents’ Trophy, which was first awarded during the 1985-86 season.

Gretzky Struggled With It, Too

The Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers were the standard for the NHL in the mid-1980s. The Oilers had captured the Stanley Cup in 1984 and 1985 and were expected to do so again in 1986. Edmonton ran away from the league in the regular season, winning the Presidents’ Trophy by nine points over the second-place team.

However, disaster struck in the Smythe Division final against the Calgary Flames. With Game 7 knotted at 2-2 in the third period, Oilers defenseman Steve Smith tried to play a pass from behind his net to get the attack started. The pass was a wayward one, however, and it ended up bouncing off Edmonton goalie Grant Fuhr and going in for a Calgary goal. The Flames would win the series and stopped the Oilers’ streak.

Edmonton would become the first team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup during the 1986-87 season.

Will You Shut Up About 1940 Already?

The New York Rangers added coach Mike Keenan right before the 1993-94 season started and set off on a wild adventure. A few years before that, the Rangers had acquired Mark Messier, who would serve as their emotional leader as they finished with a club record 112 points and held off a feisty New Jersey Devils team, which finished with 106 points. New York had to survive double overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, advancing on a goal by Stephane Matteau.

In the finals, New York blew a 3-1 lead and let Vancouver, which was the seventh seed out of the West, even the series at three games apiece. However, the Rangers found their footing and scored a 3-2 win to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940.

Presidents’ Trophy Winners Have Best Run

Starting with Dallas Stars’ victory over the Buffalo Sabres in the 1998-99 season, it kicked off a stretch where three of the four Presidents’ Trophy winners also lifted the Stanley Cup. The only exception during this period was when the St. Louis Blues were upset in the first round by the San Jose Sharks in 2000.

The Avalanche survived a scare from New Jersey during the 2000-01 season. Colorado had the best record in the league by seven points, but were taken to seven games in the finals by New Jersey. The Avalanche had to rally after falling behind 3-2 in the series after New Jersey stole a game in Denver in Game 5. 

However, Colorado won Game 6 in New Jersey by four goals before winning the finale 3-1. The 2001-02 Red Wings didn’t need much luck. Detroit ran away from everyone in the regular season, winning the Presidents’ Trophy by 15 points. In the Stanley Cup finals against Carolina, the Red Wings lost Game 1 in overtime before winning four low games in a row to clinch the crown.

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

Of the 33 times the Presidents’ Trophy has been awarded, seven teams have bowed out in the first round, while 11 have not made it past the second round. There have been eight teams that won the championship, but 25 did not.

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