The decade is coming to a close, and we’re looking back at the Anaheim Ducks best playoff series in the last 10 years.
Earlier this week on Twitter, I asked my followers to give me the Anaheim Ducks‘ best playoff series of the decade. Many replied with the 2017 Edmonton series, there was a mention of the 2014 Dallas series, and an unfunny Kings fan mentioned the 2014 Kings series. But, the series that was mentioned the most was the 2015 Western Conference Finals matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks. Now, everybody knows how it ended: a Game 7 loss at home, but we’re not here to talk about the loss. We’re here to talk about why this is the series that defined a decade.
This was the first year since 2007 that the Ducks had made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. How did they get there? They made short work of two of Canada’s young rising teams, the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames. They swept the Jets in 4 games and almost swept the Flames if not for a late-game penalty but still finished them in 5 games. So, in a mere 9 games, the Anaheim Ducks had breezed through 2 teams, no problem.
It was a bumpier road for the Chicago Blackhawks. To get to the Western Conference Finals, the Nashville Predators took them to 6 games. They would then sweep the Minnesota Wild in 4 games.
When it was decided that the Ducks and Blackhawks would meet in the WCF analysts and networks (looking at you NBCSN) were quick to hand the series over to Chicago without a second thought. But, who could blame them? The Blackhawks were a team that won 2 championships in 4 years and almost always went deep into the playoffs year after year. This was the Blackhawks team that would not die. At the same time, the Ducks were an unknown, after all, we had not been that deep in such a long time and we were running with a young goalie in Frederik Andersen at the time.
Breaking Down the Series
When Game 1 started, the Anaheim Ducks came out like a house on fire, winning by a final score of 4-1. With such an emphatic victory one would believe that maybe the Ducks were on to something. Beating the all-powerful Chicago Blackhawks by 3 in the opening game was no easy feat. Moving on Game 2, the Hawks felt the heat but didn’t flinch. The game was back and forth and after 60 minutes the score 2-2. I got nervous because Chicago is an overtime team in the playoffs. Some of their greatest wins have come in overtime and I did not want the Ducks to be their next victim. But low and behold, that’s exactly what happened.
Andrew Shaw tried to head butt the puck in with his helmet but we would learn that it would not count since that’s not a hockey play. A little later, the Hawks would go on to win 3-2 in 3OT. You can’t really be mad at that kind of loss. As I said, Chicago is an overtime team so they’re used to these kinds of games in the playoffs while the Ducks aren’t.
Heading into Game 3 the Ducks were still confident while being tied 1-1 and walking into the United Center. They won Game 3 by a score of 2-1. While not the most dominant win out there, they still got the job done. Game 4 came soon after. In that game, the Ducks scored 3 goals in 37 seconds in the 3rd period making the score 4-3 with 10:41. They would tie the game at 4-4 three minutes later. Once again, we go to OT. No score. Once again, we reach 2OT. This time, Antoine Vermette would seal the deal for the Hawks (He would later become a Duck.)
At this point, the series was tied, 2-2. The only really difference so far was that the Ducks have yet to win in OT. That would change in Game 5 as the teams had a shootout with both teams scoring 4 goals. Matt Beleskey (remember him?) would bury a rebound shot off Corey Crawford and win the game just 15 seconds into OT.
We’ve been here before. Leading a series 3-2. We’ve seen how this movie ends. But, things were different this time around. A 4th win would guarantee the Ducks a shot at that elusive silver Cup and the chance to finally tie the Kings in Cups and have double the amount of Cups the Sharks have. But something happened. Back in Chicago, the team lost 5-2 which forced a Game 7. Two words that have been an absolute dagger (not to be confused with Chelsea’s) in the hearts of Ducks fans since 2013.
In Game 7, the Ducks went down 2-0 early. Then in the second, the Hawks added another 2 goals to make it 4-0 before Kesler would get on the board for the Ducks making it 4-1. We had been here before. Being down by 3 in the 3rd. Maybe we could get another 3 goals in 37 seconds? Perry made the score 4-2. But then, Brent Seabrook would retake the 3 goal lead and effectively shut the door on the Ducks. Beleskey would score a meaningless power-play goal with 42 seconds to go. The final horn sounded and the Ducks had once again lost another Game 7 at home. Chicago would go on to beat the Lightning in 6 to add on another Stanley Cup to their trophy case.
More from History
- Anaheim Ducks Tales: When Paul Kariya Almost Came Back
- Anaheim Ducks: The Franchise All-Time Bracket Matchup
- Anaheim Ducks: Top 5 Goals in the Stanley Cup Finals
- Anaheim Ducks Tales: The Past Reminds Us to be Thankful for the Present
- Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf’s Best Moments in Honor of Game 1,000
The Closest They Came to the Cup This Decade
Despite losing the series, fans still love this series and many fans around the league say that this was the true Stanley Cup Final of the postseason. It’s understandable why fans love this series. To this day this is the closest the Ducks have been to the Finals since ’07 and they could have beaten the Hawks. The difference was in OT. Two of their wins did come in multi OT games.
But that takes us to one more question: Why? The Anaheim Ducks missed the playoffs in 2010, lost in Round 1 to the Nashville Predators in 2011, missed the playoffs in 2012, lost to the Red Wings in Round 1 in 2013, lost to the Kings in Round 2 in 2014, lost to the Blackhawks in Round 3 in 2015, lost again to the Predators in Round 1 in 2016, lost to the Predators in Round 3 in 2017, lost to the Sharks in Round 1 in 2018, and missed the Playoffs in 2019.
Why is this series one that defined a decade? Because in the 2010’s the Ducks were never truly among the elites nor were they ever considered elite. They were always playoff favorites but never Cup favorites (outside of 2015.) The Anaheim Ducks always came close though. This year, in particular, they were very, very close.
This series tells the story of the Anaheim Ducks in the playoffs: It’s a dog fight from start to finish. I’m assuming you looked at the 2010’s Playoffs record. Many of these losses came in Game 7. Which is actually a good thing, because it shows that they aren’t a team of pushovers and they push teams to the very limit to get to next stage and if you look many of the teams that got by us either went to the WCF or the Finals (but only 2 actually won the Cup.) Personally, I’ve always believed and told people that in the West, the road to the Cup goes through Anaheim. Here’s to hoping the next decade has title win that defines the decade.
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