- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thanks to the Colorado Avalanche’s 5-4 overtime win over San Jose Sunday night, the Capitals clinch the first Presidents’ Trophy in the history of the franchise.

The award, given by the NHL to the team with the most regular-season points, also carries home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Washington already has set a new franchise mark for points in a season (114) and wins (51), and has never finished first overall in the NHL — or the Eastern Conference, for that matter — before this season. The Caps still have four regular-season games left to play to add to their totals, starting Monday night when the Bruins pay a visit to Verizon Center.

The Caps have had the unusual trifecta of clinching thanks to the out-of-town scoreboard. They clinched the Southeast back on March 11th with an Atlanta Thrashers loss. They secured the East’s top seed thanks to a New Jersey loss to Philadelphia last Sunday, and a week later, wrap up the NHL’s top seed thanks to San Jose’s loss with a week still to go in the regular season.

With their sights set on success in the playoffs, while the regular-season marks are nice, it’s postseason success that the team is looking for.

After setting a new record for wins in a campaign following Saturday’s 3-2 win over Columbus, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters, “Well, it’s nice to set records. It gives us a goal to shoot for for next year.”

Despite its lofty title, the Trophy is no guarantee of postseason glory, in fact, in recent years, a lack of playoff success by its winners have been notable.

Of the last six teams to win the Trophy, only one — the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings — have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. The other five were ousted in the playoffs before even reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, with last year’s winner, the Sharks, getting knocked out in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks.

The 2006-07 Sabres were ousted in the Eastern Conference Finals by Ottawa, and the 2005-06 edition of the Red Wings were bounced out by eighth-seeded Edmonton in the first round.

Since the Trophy was introduced for the 1985-86 season, seven of the 23 teams that have finished with the NHL’s best regular-season record have gone on to win the Cup, with two more having gone on to win their conference titles but falling in the finals.

The Capitals also will receive a $350,000 bonus from the NHL for winning the award.

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