The Chicago Blackhawks are the official winners of the 2013 Presidents' Trophy, edging out the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the NHL. With their win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night, the Blackhawks earned the title for best team in the regular season for the first time since 1990-91.
With two games left on the schedule, the Blackhawks already have 75 points and could end the 2013 season with as many as 79 points. Chicago winning the trophy for the best team during the regular season is rather appropriate considering the team started the year by stringing together 24 consecutive games where they earned at least a point. Chicago's streak also included an extremely impressive 11-game winning streak.
Stop for a moment and consider how remarkable Chicago's record is.
Keep in mind that the current season is a condensed 48-game version of the usual 82-game schedule. With two games to go, the Blackhawks have 75 points. How many points they actually finish the year with is yet to be determined, but even if they lose both remaining games their mark of 75 points is phenomenal.
In 2011-12, the Columbus Blue Jackets earned 65 points. The Edmonton Oilers earned 70. The 2013 edition of the Blackhawks passed these two teams up and only needed roughly half a season to do it. That statistic boggles the mind. If the Blackhawks keep on winning, they could also pass last year's totals from the Montreal Canadiens (78) and match the total from the New York Islanders (79).
Chicago has already guaranteed that they will be the only team in 2013 to have their number of regulation losses in single digits. Currently, they have dropped just six games in regulation, meaning at worst they'll end the year with eight losses in regulation. That's insane. The next closest teams (Anaheim, Pittsburgh) have already lost 11 games in regulation and may add another loss or two to that total before all is said and done.
Simply, Chicago has been dominant. They own the best goal differential in the NHL with a +53. The next closest team to that mark in the Western Conference is Anaheim with a +22. While some teams appear to thrive either at home or on the road, Chicago has brought a balanced, intimidating attack with them wherever they play. They're 17-3-3 at home and 18-3-2 on the road.
Give credit where it's due. Patrick Kane has elevated his game to the next level, scoring 54 points in 46 games. He's trailed by the ever consistent Jonathan Toews and his 47 points in 46 games. The biggest surprise in Chicago has to be from the men between the pipes. Corey Crawford may have been a question mark for some prior to the season, but he has answered the call by maintaining a tidy 1.98 GAA and a save percentage .925 over 29 appearances. Meanwhile, Ray Emery has been ridiculous, going 17-1-0 in 21 appearances.
If you're a fan of the Blackhawks, it must feel good to see your team pick up some early hardware. However, some might be troubled by the legend that the trophy is cursed. Since 1985-86, only six Presidents' Trophy winners have gone on to hoist the Cup. The last team to successfully raise the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season was the Detroit Red Wings in 2007-08. Six Presidents' Trophy winners have been eliminated in the first round.