2nd seed vs 7th seed
The 2002-03 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim came in the season looking to break their playoff drought, not being there since the 1998-99 season. General Manager Bryan Murray revamped the team, making a trade with the New Jersey Devils to acquire Petr Sykora, as well as signing Hall of Famer Adam Oates. The team also had a new Head Coach in Mike Babcock, who was looking to push this team into the playoffs.
The Mighty Ducks had a consistent season, as they were fighting for one of the bottom seeds in the Western Conference. Around the trade deadline, Murray acquired Sandis Ozolinsh, Rob Niedermayer, and Steve Thomas, in order to bring both depth and playoff experience as the team was closing in on a playoff spot. This helped the team secure the seventh seed in the playoffs that year.
The most important part of this team was the emergence of goaltender J.S. Giguere, who began to show the league he was becoming an elite goaltender. Giguere built the momentum that he would continue to carry into the playoffs that year.
In the first round, the Mighty Ducks faced off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings, who still boasted a team with several Hall of Famers looking to win back-to-back Cups for the second time in five years. The Mighty Ducks were able to frustrate the Wings, coming from behind in game one to win by a Paul Kariya goal in the third overtime. In that game, Giguere set the playoff record with 63 saves in his playoff debut.
After taking games two and three against Detroit (both were also one-goal games), Steve Rucchin etched his name in Mighty Ducks history with a series-clinching Overtime game-winner in game four, shocking everyone by sweeping the Stanley Cup Champions.
The Mighty Ducks then went on to knock out the number one seeded Dallas Stars in six games, and then went on to play another Cinderella team in the Western Conference Finals in the Minnesota Wild. The Ducks swept the Wild in four games in one of the most boring series of all time (I was 8 and made my dad watch all the games, he can vouch for that title). In the finals, the Mighty Ducks faced off against the two time Stanley Cup Champions, the New Jersey Devils. In a well-documented back-and-forth series, the Ducks pushed the Devils to a game seven where they, unfortunately, came up one game short of the team’s first-ever Stanley Cup Championship.
Two years after winning the Stanley Cup, the Anaheim Ducks were looking to make another run for the Cup. The team was still loaded with talent, veterans Chris Pronger, Teemu Selanne, and Scott Niedermayer still lead this team, with rising stars Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and rookie Bobby Ryan becoming the key contributors. The 2009 season also began to usher a new era for the team in goal, as Jonas Hiller began his emergence as the team’s number one goaltender over long-time fan favorite J.S. Giguere.
The team just snuck in the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference with 91 points, playing their 117 point rivals in the San Jose Sharks. Not many people gave the Ducks a chance against the Sharks. However, Jonas Hiller stood on his head on route to the Ducks stunning the number one seed in six games. The series was highlighted by the opening faceoff fight between Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Thornton in game six.
In the second round, the Ducks faced a familiar foe in the Detroit Red Wings. The Ducks had beaten the Wings in the last two playoff meetings between the teams, both leading to Finals appearances for the team. In a tightly contested seven-game series, the Ducks fell to Detroit. Jonas Hiller continued his dominant run but the team was unable to score enough goals to take the series.
Game 1: The Mighty Ducks won 40 games in 2003, which was good enough for the seventh seed in the top-heavy Western Conference. In 2009 the Ducks won 42 games, just sneaking in the playoffs as the eighth seed. Oddly enough 2003 (57.9%) did have a better point percentage (55.5% for 2009), but taking the era of ties into consideration, 2009 gets the nod here.
Game 1 goes to 2009
Game 2: Much like in 2007, a team that makes it to the Stanley Cup Final has to win at least 12 games. The 2003 Mighty Ducks did that and added 3 in the cup final. With two sweeps, one six-game series, and a seven-game final, the team had a winning percentage of 71.4%. In two series of six games and seven games, the 2009 Ducks won seven games giving them a 53.9% in the playoffs.
Game 2 goes to 2003
Game 3: In 2003 the Mighty Ducks were towards the bottom of the league in goals, with 2.48 goals per game which was good for 22nd in the league that year. The 2009 Ducks were in the middle of the pack when it came to goals per game, sitting 14th with 2.99.
Game 3 goes to 2009
Game 4: When Mike Babcock joined the Mighty Ducks in 2003, he brought in a tight defensive system. That paired with the emergence of J.S. Giguere and Martin Gerber, the team finished sixth in the league with 2.35 goals against per game. 2009 saw the rise of Jonas Hiller, along with the decline of J.S. Giguere, giving the Ducks 2.90 goals against per game, good for 16th in the league.
Game 4 goes to 2003
Game 5: The 2003 Mighty Ducks were once again lead by Captain Paul Kariya, who posted 81 points, a down year by his standards but considering the trapping game the team started to use, a good season for his final in Anaheim. Ryan Getzlaf was proving to be the budding star for the Ducks, and 2009’s 91 point campaign for the team’s future Captain showed the continuing maturity and development.
Game 5 goes to 2009
Game 6: Though neither player won the Cup, with game seven of the 2003 Stanley Cup final being the closest either player had gotten, Paul Kariya and Adam Oates both entered the Hall of Fame. The 2009 Anaheim Ducks were still lead by three future Hall of Famers; Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, and Teemu Selanne.
Game 6 goes to 2009