The Presidents' Trophy has been given out to the NHL team with the best regular-season record since the 1985-86 season. There have been 24 Presidents' Trophy winners (not including Vancouver), but only seven of those teams have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. Two of them made it to the NHL Finals and lost.
Worse still, a quarter of those first-place teams got bounced out in the first round of the playoffs. What use is the regular season if it can't help you figure out who is going to win in the playoffs?
That said, I took a quick look at how teams that finished second in the regular season have done in the playoffs since 1985-86.
Well, if it's bad luck to finish first in the NHL, it's poison to finish second overall. Only two of those teams, the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, have finished second in the regular season and gone on to win a Cup.
Two other second-place teams made it to the finals and lost. Thirteen teams who finished second in the regular season have lost in the first round of the playoffs.
That is the kiss of death. Finish second and get upset in the first round more than half the time. The Capitals and the Flyers might want to stop winning games until the playoffs start, and let the Sharks finish second overall.
With 16 teams making the playoffs every year, the chances of winning the Cup are actually much higher if you finish first in the regular season. The Canucks apparently don't have a Presidents' Trophy curse to beat. Winning the regular season doesn't guarantee you anything, but if you were the best team in the regular season you've got a better chance of succeeding in the NHL playoffs than anyone else.
The Canucks players celebrated their victory on Thursday quietly and have moved on. The sentiment in Vancouver seems to be that it's nice to succeed and they're not really satisfied until they win a Stanley Cup. The chances this year seem to be in their favour.