If anyone can still recall, the Capitals produced the most points in the NHL's regular season and were, by virtue of that body of work, broadly regarded as the league's best.
One problem with that: The Stanley Cup isn't awarded on a body of work.
Oh, sure, if the Penguins and Sharks hadn't both overcome ragged starts to 2015-16, neither would have qualified for the playoffs and, thus, of course, neither would stand on the precipice of the championship round that begins in great earnest Monday night at Consol Energy Center. But Pittsburgh's 48 wins and San Jose's 46 were melted down to zero once the postseason began. And so now, too, are their 12 wins through three rounds of playoffs.
As Kris Letang was telling me, "It's new. All new right now."
It's all square, too.
And man, I mean that in every way imaginable, because these two teams are not only the league's true best, as defined by the only criteria that matter, but they're also excruciatingly close in so many categories that, in all candor, it's really, really hard to pick a winner. Or even which aspect might separate them: