With Avalanche loss, Panthers win 2022 Presidents’ Trophy

With Avalanche loss, Panthers win 2022 Presidents' Trophy
Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Not every playoff matchup was settled on Thursday, but we don’t need to wait: the Florida Panthers won the 2021-22 Presidents’ Trophy.

The Panthers beat the Senators earlier on Thursday, then the Avalanche squandered a lead to the Predators, falling to Nashville in a shootout. At the end of the night, the Panthers sit at 122 points while the Avalanche boast 119. Both only have a single game left, so Colorado can’t make up the difference.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

Panthers squeeze by Avalanche to win 2022 Presidents’ Trophy

It’s the first Presidents’ Trophy for the Florida Panthers, who’ve blown away just about every franchise record this season. Maybe all that pricey trade deadline spending made the difference? It’s noteworthy that Colorado was very close to consecutive Presidents’ Trophy wins; instead, the award continues to hot-potato around.

Maybe this will convince the Avalanche to actually rest some players? Honestly, the Avs should’ve seen the value in that on Thursday, but now there’s little excuse. You know, unless they really care about “avoiding rust,” which would be odd for an Avs franchise that’s often on the cutting edge.

(Then again, it’s hockey, where cutting edge can sometimes translate to “still 5-10 years behind other sports leagues.)

At the moment, both the Avalanche and Panthers don’t know who they’ll face in the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If the playoffs began today, the Panthers would host the Capitals, but Washington could surpass the Penguins on Friday. Similarly, the Stars would be the Avalanche’s first-round opponent, yet they could leap over the Predators on Friday.

Truly, it’s staggering to see how quickly the Panthers have risen up the NHL ranks. It’s a great accomplishment, although many will downplay these achievements if they can’t win their first playoff series since they faced the Avalanche in the 1996 Stanley Cup Final.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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