Decade of Excellence – Thankful Even After Defeat

The Capitals have been eliminated from the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs earlier than any Caps fan had hoped. Whether the craziness of this year’s playoffs with all division winners being eliminated in the first round makes it any easier is up for debate. For me personally, I’m disappointed that hockey in the District has come to an end for the season and I have to wait over five months for it to begin again.

None of this takes away from the fact that the DMV has been fortunate to experience a decade of excellent hockey and incredibly memorable experiences courtesy of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and company.

I decided to pull the regular season stats for the past ten seasons and it turns out that the Capitals had the best combined regular season record for the entire NHL. From the 2009-10 season through the 2018-19 season, the Capitals have best overall regular season record.  The top ten regular season records over that period were:

  1. Washington Capitals – 1,015
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins – 1,009
  3. Boston Bruins – 978
  4. San Jose Sharks – 969
  5. Chicago Blackhawks – 968
  6. St. Louis Blues – 965
  7. Anaheim Ducks – 948
  8. Tampa Bay Lightning – 948
  9. Nashville Predators – 943
  10. New York Rangers – 912

The bottom ten (not including Vegas) were:

  1. Edmonton Oilers – 702
  2. Buffalo Sabres – 736
  3. Florida Panthers – 802
  4. Phoenix Coyotes – 803
  5. Carolina Hurricanes – 804
  6. Colorado Avalanche – 807
  7. Toronto Maple Leafs – 817
  8. Ottawa Senators – 817
  9. New Jersey Devils – 823
  10. Columbus Blue Jackets – 841

I understand that winning the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal, but as someone that rarely misses a home game, I still want to see entertaining and competitive games during the regular season.  Just ask any Tampa Bay fan how quickly the playoffs can end and if they still want to enjoy the 41 regular season home games leading up to it.

Despite a lockout-shortened 2012-13 regular season, the Capitals have still averaged over 100 points during the regular season over the past decade.  The Capitals are also one of only five teams to win the Cup during the last ten years.  San Jose (fourth overall) has only one Finals appearance in its history and no Cups. St. Louis (sixth overall) has not appeared in a Final since 1970 (when an expansion team had to make the Finals) and has never won the Cup. In fact, 12 of the current 31 teams (San Jose, St. Louis, Nashville, Minnesota, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Columbus, Ottawa, Phoenix, Florida, Buffalo and Vegas) have never won a Cup and four of those teams (Minnesota, Winnipeg, Columbus and Phoenix) have never made it to the Finals. Columbus, until this year, had never even made it past the first round.

While I never want to see the Caps eliminated, I know that is not realistic and winning the Cup last season made the fear that I would never see them win the Cup in my lifetime a distant memory. With the large number of teams in the league and that number expanding soon, there is a good chance that a lot of fan bases will never get to experience what we were able to last season and for that I am and continue to be thankful that the Caps were able to finally reach the mountaintop, even if they are now sitting on the sidelines until October.

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