The 2022-23 Boston Bruins were the greatest team in regular season history. The Bruins won a league-record 65 games and posted a league-record 135 points, winning the Presidents’ Trophy by a whopping 22 points. They only lost seven games at home all season.
But all those team stats didn’t matter as the Bruins faced off against a very game Florida Panthers team in the first round of the playoffs. Florida was the second wild card team and the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed.
After taking a 3-1 lead in the series, the Bruins lost three consecutive games to Florida and were officially eliminated in Game Seven, 8:35 into sudden-death overtime. Carter Verhaeghe scored on a wrist shot from the right circle with traffic in front, beating Jeremy Swayman to advance to the second round.
Florida’s advancing marks the biggest upset in NHL history. The Bruins lost three of their four playoff games at home.
“It really is the biggest upset in NHL history to every single other person other than the guys in that room,” Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk said triumphantly postgame to Sportsnet’s Caroline Cameron.
“Trust me, we probably weren’t the favorite against a 65-win team but what an unbelievable effort. Down 3-2, tie one late, overtime-winner, like, I don’t know. Kind of one of those legacy games for a bunch of guys on our team and our franchise. We just did what nobody in the world thought we could do and that’s pretty tight.”
The Bruins now share a dubious honor with the Washington Capitals. Per Sportsnet Stats, the Bruins are the second Presidents’ Trophy-winning team in NHL history to blow a 3-1 series lead in the postseason, joining the 2009-10 Capitals team led by Bruce Boudreau.
The Bruins are the 2nd team in NHL history to blow a 3-1 series lead as the Presidents' Trophy Winner.
The Capitals did so in the 2010 Conference Quarterfinals against the Canadiens. pic.twitter.com/1k5N3dkW7e
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 1, 2023
The Capitals that year lost in the first round of the playoffs after running into an impenetrable wall named Jaroslav Halak. The Capitals won three consecutive games in the series after the Canadiens won Game One in overtime 3-2. But after that, Halak was lights out, giving up only one goal in three-straight Habs victories, officially eliminating the Capitals.
Halak replaced likely future Hockey Hall of Famer, Carey Price, in net during the series. The Slovakian netminder stopped 217 of 231 shots overall (.939 save percentage), including 41 of 42 shots in Game Seven to upset the Capitals.
The Caps finished the 2009-10 regular season with 121 standings points, becoming the first non-Original Six team to reach the 120-point plateau. The Capitals scored 313 goals that season — the most goals in 15 years (1995-96). They led the league in power-play goals (79) and power-play percentage (79 for 313).
The Bruins’ surprise elimination in 2023 continues what many believe is a Presidents’ Trophy curse. Over the last 10 seasons, no Presidents’ Trophy-winning team has won the Stanley Cup. The last team to do so was the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season.
’23 Bruins (1st Round)
’22 Panthers (2nd)
’21 Avalanche (2nd)
’20 Bruins (2nd)
’19 Lightning (1st)
’18 Predators (2nd)
’17 Capitals (2nd)
’16 Capitals (2nd)
’15 Rangers (Conf Final)
’14 Bruins (2nd)
’13 Blackhawks: ✅
The Capitals’ won three Presidents’ Trophies between 2010 and 2017, but never advanced past the second round of the playoffs during those seasons.
So Boston, we feel your pain, but… are still very much laughing at you.
NHL moments preceding unfortunate events: https://t.co/PDIM8Ibmeo
— ea (@TjBlowshie) May 1, 2023
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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