“He’s just a warrior, everyday he’s challenging you and he just hates when somebody scores.”
This is what Teemu Selanne had to say when asked about Jean-Sebastien Giguere on the Anaheim Ducks Stanley Cup DVD. It has been reported that sometime in the next week Giguere will announce his retirement from the NHL. So to pay tribute to the best goalie in the Ducks twenty year history we will look at different parts about his great career. This article looks at Giguere and the Ducks play and run to the Stanley Cup in 2007.
Giguere won the Conn Smythe award as playoff MVP during the Ducks Cinderella Cup run in 03’ but came up short in the series as the Ducks fell to the New Jersey Devils in Game 7. With the Ducks losing in the Western Conference Finals in 06’ Giguere was itching to make up for missed opportunity. With that in mind Giguere brought his A game in 07’.
Giguere finished the regular season posting a 36-10-8 record (which was his highest career win total). He also posted a .918 SV% and a 2.26 GAA. Those numbers were good enough to give the Ducks the number 2 seed in the West for the playoffs. However Giguere and the Ducks would deal with adversity even before the puck dropped on the Quarterfinals.
Giguere and his wife welcomed their first child Maxime into the world just days before the post-season was set to begin however there were some complications. Maxime was born with a deformed right eye and the initial fear was he could become completely blind. Reconstructive surgery was done to fix the problem and because of it Giguere missed the first 3 games of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Ilya Bryzgalov was called upon to patrol the pipes in his absence. Giguere’s son had successful surgery and he returned to the Ducks line-up following Game 3. However Bryzgalov had staked the Ducks to a 3-0 series lead and the Ducks rode the hot hand into Game 4. With a rough Game 4 outing Head coach Randy Carlyle felt it was time for Giguere to get in to the series and be the Ducks guy moving forward. He finished Game 4 in relief of Bryzgalov and when the series turned back to Honda Center Giguere shut the door and gave the Ducks the series win.
With a solid performance and a fresh series on the horizon it was clear that Giguere was locked in and he was going to be the Ducks guy. They would go as far as he would take them. In the next series the Ducks would draw the Vancouver Canucks. And Giguere would stymie the Canucks posting a 1.36 GAA and an unheard of .948 SV%. The Ducks would cruise past the Canucks in 5 games and Giguere looked to be in control throughout. It would be the next series where Giggy would put his stamp on the 2007 playoffs and get the Ducks back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
As the Ducks advanced fans saw the next opponent was against a familiar team and very familiar coach. The Detroit Red Wings and former coach Mike Babcock were the only things standing in the way of the Ducks to get back to the Finals. And this was Giguere stamp on the 2007 playoffs. The first two games would go back and forth with some bounces in both games and each team would take a game.
Headed back home for Games 3 and 4 the Ducks hoped to utilize home ice advantage. Game 3 however would be the worst game the Ducks would play losing 5-0 and Giguere getting pulled halfway through the second period. Fans thought maybe this wasn’t the Ducks year, however it was clear that Giguere never thought that. Giguere was back in there and led the Ducks to a win making some key stops down the stretch setting up a pivotal Game 5.
Game 5 was Gigueres game through and through and he came ready to play even when the rest of the team didn’t. Giguere held the Wings to 1 goal on 37 shots. This allowed Scott Niedermayer to tie the game with 45 seconds left and Teemu Selanne to win it in overtime. This was a signature Giguere game and proof that when he was on his game there was no beating him. Following this game Eric Stephens, writer for the Orange County Register said “This is what a great goaltender does; he can keep you in games until the team finds themselves”. And he did just that and now just needed one more win to propel the Ducks to the Finals.
In Game 6 it was Giguere again holding the fort making key save after key save in the third period as the Ducks held on for the series win. Without him the Ducks wouldn’t have made it out of the series as he stood on his head all 6 games. He did all of this while knowing his newborn son was dealing with some serious medical issues.
Former Ducks General Manager Brian Burke stated this on Gigueres performance, “I’m not sure I’ve seen a guy focus through adversity’s like Giggy did, 20 years I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.” And Selanne added “When something’s bothering you it’s tough to bring you’re A game but Giggy did and I’m just so proud of this guy.” High praise from two great people and now the Ducks were 4 wins away from the Stanley Cup.
Just as the 1980 US team is most remembered for their semi-final win over the Soviet Union Giguere is most remembered for his performance against the Wings. Not to so say he didn’t play well in the Ottawa series, he did, making numerous key saves at key moments to lead the Ducks to the Cup. But this series seemed to always be in hand for the Ducks and not the back and forth affair the Wings series was. Giguere and the Ducks would clinch the Cup in 5 games and every fan can remember the image of Giguere with his arms in the air as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were the first to mob him in celebration. Just as fans couldn’t wait for Selanne to hoist the Cup over his head seeing Giguere hoist the Cup over his head caused fans everywhere to get a little misty. Finally the goalie that had gone through so much was a Champ.
Giguere is without a doubt the best goalie in Ducks history and he’s the goalie that put the Ducks on the map. He put them into peoples mind in 03’ showing this wasn’t just a “Mickey Mouse” organization and winning in 07’ showed this is a team that could compete year in and year out. Teemu Selanne is the face of the Ducks franchise and will have his number retired later this season. But Giguere is right behind Selanne and without a doubt the No. 35 should be sitting up in the Honda Center rafters right alongside the legendary number 8.
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