Rangers have a nearly 40% chance of getting back to the Stanley Cup Final after winning President’s Trophy

Rangers celebrate President's Trophy win in NJ (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Rangers celebrate President’s Trophy win in NJ (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The President’s Trophy has been awarded 28 times since it was created for the 1985-86 season. That was 29 years ago but sadly a lockout in 2004 caused the cancellation of an entire NHL campaign.

This Trophy goes to the team with the most points at end of the regular season and has seen only 15 franchises win it. The New York Rangers have now won it 3 times in their history for second most among franchises (Detroit has won it 6 times). The first time was during Mark Messier‘s first season in NY in 1991-92 and then again 2 years later in 1993-94.

Messier accepts the President's Trophy (NHL)

Messier accepts the President’s Trophy (NHL)

When the Rangers won it that year, they finished with a record of 50-25-5 and 105 points. It was a season where they rode two goalies the whole way in Mike Richter and John Vanbiesbrouck. Neither goalie could get on a roll in the playoffs and it eventually cost them against Pittsburgh in the 2nd round.

What happened during that post-season and subsequent year where the Rangers missed the playoffs had major ramifications to winning the Cup the following season. Roger Nielson was fired, Vanbiesbrouck was traded and Mike Keenan came in with an iron-fist.

It all added up into the strongest season in Rangers history with a record of 52-24-8 and 112 points. The Blueshirts used that home ice advantage and won two pivotal game 7’s against NJ and Vancouver in the Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup Final respectively.

Derek Stepan celebrates  (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Derek Stepan celebrates goal with Chris Kreider (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

So here we are today with the Rangers just 1 win and 2 points away from posting the best regular season in franchise history. They already have surpassed the record for points earned per game with an average of 1.38 (1.33 in ’94 due to 84 game schedule), but as AV said last night, “this team will be judged by what it does in the playoffs.”

So here are some numbers to digest about the significance of winning the President’s Trophy and how it can impact the quest for the Cup.

Eight teams have won the title and gone on to win Lord Stanley’s prize for a healthy 28.5%. When you are talking about being 1 of 16 teams to compete for it, that’s only a 6.25% of winning it, so having home ice obviously helps improve that number.

When you look at how many teams have at least gotten to the Final with chance to win it all, 11 teams made it (39.29%). Winning the President’s Trophy is certainly a major stepping stone to at least return to the Final for the Blueshirts.

Are there negatives to winning it? Not really in the grand scheme of things, but 5 teams were bounced in the first round (17.85%) and it has happened to 3 of the last 6 winners. For the Rangers as a franchise, one stands out that actually helped them win the title this season.

In 2011-12, the L.A. Kings knocked out the Vancouver Canucks in the first round and got Alain Vigneault the boot. If not for that loss, I fear to think where the Rangers would be as a franchise today.

AV & Slats are going for it! (NYR)

AV & Slats are going for it! (NYR)

Looking at it after the lost season that saw the Salary Cap Era come into play (2004-05), 2 teams have won it 9 years (22.22%) and 3 have made it to the Final (33.33%). All in all, those are still good odds to me.

The most recent President’s Trophy and Cup winner was the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-13, just 2 seasons ago. To me that means having home ice is certainly advantageous. The Hawks beat a very good Red Wings team in the 2nd round in a game 7. In the Stanley Cup Final they won a pivotal game 5 at home and took the series in 6.

Although the Rangers can play well both home and away, this year the Rangers have made the Garden a nightmare for the opposition. NY sports a 27-11-2 road record to accompany a 25-10-5 record at Madison Square Garden. The Garden Faithful better get amped and loud to help the Rangers win 16 playoff games to glory.

Funny but way back at the start of the season this website wrote the importance of how home success could translate into longterm success.

Winning at Home Means Success (Last 5 Years)

2013-14: 20-17-4 at home / 96 points / 5th seed (Lost in Stanley Cup Final)

2012-13: 10-12-2 at home / 56 points / 6th seed (Lost in 2nd RD)

2011-12: 27-12-2 at home / 109 points / 1st seed (Lost in ECF)

2010-11: 20-17-4 at home / 93 points / 8th seed (Lost in 1st RD)

2009-10: 18-17-6 at home / 87 points / 9th seed (missed playoffs)

MSG (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

MSG (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Now that the Rangers have improved their home play to coincide with their “road warriors” attitude. This combination has earned them the regular season title. Marching forward, it is up to this group of soldiers to complete some unfinished business from last year.

After winning the President’s Trophy, I sure like their chances.


For a full list of winners and playoff results see Wikipedia.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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