Part 1 - Sweeping the Red Wings
One of the biggest legacies that J.S. Giguere will leave behind in Anaheim is an absurd and ridiculous playoff overtime record. If I were to try to capture Jiggy's legacy in one sentence, it would go something like this: "When it mattered most, Giguere turned Anaheim's ties into wins." In the postseason, Giguere played more than 250 minutes of overtime, faced 115 shots that were all potential game-winners and series-changers, and only allowed 1 puck to get past him. His playoff OT record is unreal, and it includes a variety of opponents -- below is the breakdown:
Now granted, the bulk of Giguere's OT workload here came in three 2003 outings -- G1 at Detroit, G1 at Dallas, and G1 at Minnesota -- and the impact of winning those marathon games was tremendous. Outside of that, he hasn't had to make any incredible number of OT saves, but even so -- he still gets the wins. Call it luck, call it confidence, whatever -- it's still a tremendous and unrepeatable legacy.
After the jump, some of the pivotal series wins, plus some other memories.
2003 Dallas Stars: In the second round of the '03 playoffs, the 7th-seeded Mighty Ducks faced off against the top-seeded Stars, a team that had a very intimidating 28-5-6-2 home record during the regular season (W-L-T-O, remember?). Once again, the Mighty Ducks snatched both of the first two games in Dallas (both in overtime), and ultimately upset the Stars in six. The crazy and amazing thing about the Dallas series was that it was full of miracle endings. In all six games of the series, Dallas either had a lead or a tie with two minutes to go in regulation, yet the plucky Mighty Ducks managed to win the series -- another testament to Giguere's clutch play. All four game-winning goals came on Anaheim's final shot of the game.
Two Minutes Left in Regulation
#1 Dallas Stars v. #7 Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 2003
|Game||Score at 58:00||Final Score|
|1||Stars 3, Ducks 3||Ducks 4, Stars 3 (5OT)|
|2||Stars 2, Ducks 1||Ducks 3, Stars 2 (OT)|
|3||Stars 2, Ducks 1||Stars 2, Ducks 1|
|4||Stars 0, Ducks 0||Ducks 1, Stars 0|
|5||Stars 4, Ducks 1||Stars 4, Ducks 1|
|6||Stars 3, Ducks 3||Ducks 4, Stars 3|
One side story about Game One. I remember that I was absolutely crushed when the game went to overtime, because I had worked out my day perfectly to accommodate a regulation game. As the overtime started, I had to run off to choir practice or something and made my buddy swear he'd call me as soon as it was over. I waited and waited for that call -- cursed my pal and my phone more than once -- and after my commitment had ended I was able to rush back to his place. I found out then that amazingly, the game was still going on; the seventh-period intermission was nearly over. 48 seconds into that fifth overtime, Petr Sykora scored his first goal of the postseason -- turns out I had planned out that day perfectly.
2003 Minnesota Wild: Sykora's second goal of that postseason was just as crucial -- the 2-OT G1 winner in the next round in St. Paul. Now a lot of people scoff at the Wild's credentials as a conference finalist -- they were only a six-seed, after all. However, they were the highest-scoring team left in the playoffs, averaging 3.0 goals-per-game overall and 4.2 goals-per-game when facing elimination. And yeah, they got shut down, but the Wild did get some marvelous chances -- in particular, I remember a Marian Gaborik breakaway from his own blueline that got snuffed. Jiggy just doesn't like giving up goals to Minnesota:
J.S. Giguere's playoff statistics vs. the Wild
|Year||Minutes||Shots Against||Goals Against||GAA||Save%|
Now, just for reference: back in the 2003 postseason, I wasn't really a blogger, but I did write a regular e-mail to five hockey fans entitled "Ducks Hype". After G2 of the WCF I wrote this, which helps put Giguere's pre-SCF performance in perspective:
Giguere: 19 GA on 436 shots over some 850 minutes of hockey.
Lalime: 19 GA on 304 shots over some 750 minutes of hockey.
Brodeur: 19 GA on 301 shots over some 700 minutes of hockey.
Man, it's got to be tough transitioning from Cloutier to Giguere. Giguere has stopped 63 Wild shots, and the Wild are now 0-8 on the powerplay over the two games. On the last 63 shots the Wild took on Vancouver, they scored 15 goals. On their last 8 powerplays against Vancouver, they scored 4 times.
Through the first three rounds of the playoffs, J.S. Giguere had a 12-2 record with an astounding 1.22 GAA and a .960 sv%. In twelve Mighty Ducks victories to that point, Jiggy was first star of the game nine times and second star twice. And he enabled these stunning facts to exist: (all through three rounds of 2003)
The Ducks are now 1-0 when outshooting their opponents. They are 11-1 when outshot, and 4-0 when outshot by more than 10 shots.
They are 8-1 when their power play does not score, and they are 5-1 when giving up a power play goal.
They are 10-0 when scoring more than one goal in a game.
They are 9-1 when tied after one period, 5-0 when tied after two periods, and 5-0 when tied after three periods.
They are 6-2 when trailing at any point in the game. They are 12-0 when leading at any point in the game.
They have outscored their opposition 15-5 after the second period.
Then came the dreaded ten days off waiting for the Cup Finals. The team was affected for sure -- they lost both G1 and G2 in Jersey without scoring a goal or getting a seventeenth shot-on-goal in either game. The Mighty Ducks did make a series of it, of course, winning G3 and G4 both in overtime, and playing a tremendous game in G6 (best game I've ever attended). But it was not to be -- the Devils controlled G7 and Giguere's Ducks were finally snuffed out. He did win the Conn Smythe Trophy on a losing team, which Devils fans still grumble about, but I really can't listen to it -- Jiggy took a team that arguably shouldn't have won a single game that postseason to the 7th game of the cup finals. For two months he defied rational sense, and it was for sure a swell ride.
* * *
2003 was the magical postseason, but it had a rotten ending. 2007 was much more mechanical and efficient, but it did deliver the Ducks and Giguere their happy ending.
The '07 Ducks, no longer "Mighty" and no longer Disney, were also not nearly as goalie-reliant as they were in 2003. Throughout most of the '06 postseason and the first round of '07, Ilya Bryzgalov was Anaheim's primary netminder, with great success (more on that below). Still, Giguere was great at winning games behind that lineup. As I said in a post entitled The Importance of Being Giguere (1/30/07):
...how big a part of the Ducks success do you think is due to their goaltending?
You know, I've tried like five times to write a good response to that e-mail, but honestly, it's a tough question. So in lieu of me actually answering it, I'll instead just provide one jaw-dropping stat to consider:
Ducks when Giguere gets the start: 25-3-4
Ducks when Giguere does not start: 6-9-4
The four opponents that Anaheim faced in 2007 were certainly tough -- from Christmas through the end of the season, they were the top four regulation teams in the league. And the series were all tough -- in each round the Ducks won three one-goal games. But Giguere outdueled Luongo, outheld Hasek, and outlasted Emery -- once again, the majority of close games went Anaheim's way.
In his playoff career with Anaheim, Giguere won 23 one-goal games and lost only 5. Some of the time it was because Giguere was ridiculously unbeatable; some of the time it was because he kept the score close enough for the skaters to win it, but he relished the duel -- when it mattered most, he turned our ties into wins.
* * *
Of course history isn't all golden when it comes to J.S. Giguere -- there's been times when his groin or his head have gone wonky. The 2006 postseason shockingly started without Jiggy -- he had strained something in the last game of the year, so Ilya Bryzgalov took the surprise G1 start in Calgary. Jiggy would play the next couple of games, but ultimately Carlyle went back to Breezy; Giguere wasn't stopping pucks the same way Bryzgalov was.
The 2007 postseason also surprisingly started without J.S. -- the complications around his son's birth had kept him out of the lineup at the end of the season, and going on a hunch Carlyle once again went to the Breezy well. The second posteason in a row I had failed to predict the G1 starter -- on a lot of teams, that would be tragic. Bryzgalov won three one-goal games against the Wild before getting yanked in G4; Giguere started every game after that.
And Giguere hasn't won a series for Anaheim since the Stanley Cup Finals. He had an awfully forgettable first round in 2008 (to be fair, it was a team-wide failure), and was usurped by Hiller before last postseason rolled around (and then again this year). He's had issues that have derailed his game each of the last two seasons, and even though there has been a general slide in Giguere's results, I still have to commend him on two specific things:
1. Giguere hates not delivering. When the chips were down for Giguere and he wasn't stopping pucks, you could tell he absolutely hated it. He's a passionate dude, and all his time in Anaheim he desperately wanted to be #1.
2. For whatever reason, Giguere's understudies have done very well. I don't know if it's good mentoring or Giguere's competitive nature, but somehow whenever Giguere's game went south, there was always a more-than-capable backup plan. For sure Anaheim has scouted well in the goaltending department -- that of course helps a ton -- but I think sometimes a starting goaltender can create a tough atmosphere for his backup. Not every talented young netminder has a smooth entry into the NHL.
But Giguere's two main understudies -- Breezy and Hiller -- both were excellent when called upon. Whatever environment Giguere had helped create for them, it worked. Repeatedly. And I think a lot of that credit somehow has to go back to Jiggy.
* * *
In closing, I just want to add that I've never met J.S. Giguere -- I'm just a blogger who lives on the paying side of the glass -- but I've heard he's a class act to the fans. If anyone wants to share any stories there, feel free to add to the comments or fanposts. I do know that he was a fantastic face for the franchise -- lots of fans remained steadfast to Jiggy, even when times were tough -- and photos like this still make me a bit emotional:
Uh, I think I have something in my eye. Anyways, you're the best, Jiggy -- thanks again for everything; knock 'em dead in Toronto.
Prediction: Oh yeah, game tonight? Sure, I'll be around for comments. By all accounts, Edmonton is one rotten team this year, but that's precisely the type of team that scares the bejeezus out of me. Points are important, though -- Ducks 3, Oilers 2. Goals by Teemu, B-Ry, and Beleskey.