Earl Sleek, Jan. 14:
Here's a fun fact for you: In its franchise history, Anaheim has qualified for the playoffs six times, and in every odd-numbered year they've qualified, they have met up with Detroit ('97, '99, '03, '07). ... For sure 2009 is an odd-numbered year; the only question remains whether Anaheim's going to play past game 82 this time around.
Since the lockout, the story of the playoffs has been a simple Choose-Your-Own-Adventure: (a) Detroit wins a Stanley Cup, or (b) Detroit gets eliminated by Chris Pronger.
The first postseason BoC in 40 years is over, and finally the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks have now begun their journey down the path to proper playoff hatred. It wasn't a complete success yet -- I probably don't hate enough Sharks players for Shark fans' liking -- but there will definitely be scars to rub the next six times these teams face each other.
For now, though, it's time for the Ducks to face off against an enemy that is significantly further down that path of playoff hatred -- in fact, it's tough to characterize them as anything other than Anaheim's franchise nemesis: Detroit Effing Red Wings.
One of my favorite graphics -- we may see this one more than once this round.
1997. 1999. 2003. 2007. The history is there -- this will be the fifth series between these teams in the seven times Anaheim has qualified for the postseason (we'll get more into that later). The track record is there -- these two teams have been equally playoff-successful since the lockout. The hatred is there -- well, I'll just point to A2Y for that (welcome, new commenters. here to shit on my cornflakes?).
And the sting is there. Honestly, I was hoping that this match-up wouldn't happen this year -- one trump card I've always been able to hold over obnoxious Wings commenters is Anaheim's triumph in 2007, and before that 2003. Anaheim quite possibly cost Detroit two Stanley Cups in four years -- it's a gutpunch, sure, but it's been available if I needed it. Now that "bragging rights" trump card is in jeopardy, and that's not comforting.
To tell you the truth, I haven't watched a ton of Wings hockey this year -- my viewing habits prioritized western bubble teams -- so I won't be offering a stellar scouting report. I can tell you this -- their forward lines are deep and dangerous, they have the best defenseman on the planet, their power play is ridiculously sick, and while their goaltending might be suspect on paper, it probably won't be on the ice. In most scenarios, the Ducks are screwed.
But hey, we were screwed last round. And we were screwed in 2003. And we were screwed in 2007. The fortunate thing for Ducks fans is that by law, they have to settle these games on the ice. And as this Anaheim franchise continues to prove: anything can happen over a best-of-seven series.
In 2003, the Ducks and Wings experienced the series-changing power of a hot-as-hell goaltender. In 2007, the Ducks and Wings experienced the series-changing power of a fortunate bounce. So far these playoffs, it seems that Anaheim has gotten its share of both -- can it keep up for another round against the defending champs?
We shall see.
Here's the Ducks' second round schedule, translated to Pacific time.
|1||ANA @ DET||Fri., May 1||4:00 pm||VERSUS, TSN2|
|2||ANA @ DET||Sun., May 3||11:00 am||NBC, TSN|
|3||DET @ ANA||Tue., May 5||7:30 pm||VERSUS, TSN|
|4||DET @ ANA||Thu., May 7||7:30 pm||VERSUS, TSN|
|5*||ANA @ DET||Sun., May 10||2:00 pm||TSN|
|6*||DET @ ANA||Tue., May 12||TBD||VERSUS, TSN|
|7*||ANA @ DET||Thu., May 14||TBD||VERSUS, TSN|
|* if necessary|
After the jump, a look backwards: a quick run-through of some of the cartoons from the last round (and before) -- Classic BoC: Sharks vs. Ducks.
Battle of California 2009: A series told in cartoons
For curiosity's sake: Which was your favorite? Which one pissed you off the most?
While I'd love to keep up the same artistic pace next round, we'll have to see. For one, I'm still shaky on the concept of what a fucking Red Wing is -- an odd-colored car tire that was granted a wish? Plus, by virtue of the non-BoCness of the Red Wings, I probably don't have as much "used" art to resurrect. Time to get creative, I guess.