CHICAGO – There is a piece of hardware that an NHL team can win before the puck drops in the postseason.
That’s the President’s Trophy – awarded to the team in the NHL with the most points in the regular season. Right now the Blackhawks are right in the thick of that race.
After a resounding 5-1 over the Penguins on Wednesday, the Blackhawks have 105 points on the season which is second-best in the NHL. They are five points behind the Capitals, who lead the league with 110 points. The team has five games left in the regular season to try to make up that gap with Washington.
The question now becomes if the Blackhawks want to go all in to get this honor before the end of the regular season? Right now, the answer is probably no.
For one, the team is very close to clinching home-ice advantage in the Western Conference – which would keep them at the United Center potentially for three rounds of the playoffs. Right now the Blackhawks are nine points ahead of the Wild, who sit in second place in the Central Division and the conference itself. Barring a collapse, most likely the team will be the top seed in the Western Conference.
Plus there is history.
Since the NHL started giving out the award for the best record in the 1985-1986 season, only eight teams have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. Over the last 13 seasons, only two Presidents’ Trophy winners have gone on to win the championship – the 2008 Red Wings and 2013 Blackhawks. That was the second time the franchise won the trophy, doing so also in 1991 but they were upset by the eventual Campbell Conference champion North Stars in the first round.
On top of that, a veteran Blackhawks team which has won three Stanley Cups since 2010 might not be interested in an all-out chase for something that won’t guarantee a championship. Head coach Joel Quenneville most likely would elect to rest players to have them healthy for a run at the trophy that really matters this spring.