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Ducks Offday—Stage Seven: Closure

Round One, Game Seven: Unnecessary
(DAL wins series 4-2, JavaGeek ‘odds’: DAL 100%)

Ack, my favorite picture to show when the Ducks go through painful times. Anyway, here's some post-mortem thoughts on the dead Ducks:

If you ask me what fundamentally went wrong with the Ducks in Round One, it was the inability to cope when the Stars broke a tie. It was like clockwork: five times the Stars took a one-goal lead, and five times they were able to score the next goal as well. Compare this to last year: in 21 games, the Ducks’ opponents were able to score a tie-breaking goal 15 times, but were able to score the next goal only four times. Instead of trying to tie the game with extra offense, this year’s Ducks tended to sit on their heels and surrender even more chances, and even though Giguere battled pretty well, there simply weren’t enough pucks headed the other way.

Full credit to the Dallas Stars: they executed a gameplan that seemed designed to dismantle the cup champs, one that fully took advantage of Anaheim’s forechecking tendencies. Whenever the Ducks would dump and chase, the Stars created a small perimeter around the forechecker(s), and whenever the puck would come loose, it came straight to a Dallas stick and started going the other direction. Three other impressive aspects to the Stars:

(a) shot-blocking: very rarely did Anaheim get any shots from its blueliners, to the point where by G6 they weren’t even attempting many.

(b) power play efficiency: the Stars were very mobile and very adept at finding the uncovered shooter—they scored more than half their series goals on the power play, taking advantage of Anaheim’s tendency to overcommit to a puck carrier.

(c) attacking the blueline: unlike the Ducks, who often got the puck deep just to relieve pressure, the Stars attacked the Ducks’ blueline with purpose, either carrying it in or smartly putting it in a retrievable corner.

Some other quick notes:

  • Sorry, Duck fans, but I’m not going to harp on refereeing. I thought the refs did as well as expected in this series, probably better. Generally, I don’t approve of referee-bashing; probably 99% of complaints about "biased referees" come from even more biased fans. Sure, it would have been nice to get a phantom power play in the 3rd period of an elimination game, but teams that wait for referees to win games for them often find themselves golfing.

  • Marty Turco may now have the playoff monkey off his back, but I don't think he had to steal any games; pretty much the series was won in front of him. It's a bit ironic, but I think he had a gutsier first round performance last year.

  • The one Star that impressed me the most? Mike Ribiero, but mainly because of the perception I had of the guy. When you hear a guy get called "heartless" and "gutless" enough times, it's kind of shocking when you see him play with heart and guts. I think his weasely goal in G5 was the best goal of the series.

  • As for who this Duck fan will be rooting for the rest of the playoffs, here’s my perspective: Until they're out, I’ll squarely be in the Sharks’ corner (hope it’s not the kiss of death). Failing that, my general bias will be to root for any team from the west to beat any team from the east.

  • I was tempted to title my elimination post with the same gimmick I used the last time the Ducks were eliminated, but that joke's only good once every hundred years. Even though it was a joke post title, did anyone predict the Ducks would win the 2007 cup before May 27, 2006? My best prediction to date.

  • It's kind of crazy that the western teams that have advanced thus far are Detroit, Dallas, and Colorado. What is this, the 1990s?

  • Looking forward, I guess there’s some pretty important questions for the Ducks to answer this summer. Here’s a quick run-through of them, in the order of importance in my mind. Feel free to offer your thoughts or priorities in the comments:

    1. Is Scott Niedermayer going to retire, and if not, can the Ducks find a trade partner to take Mathieu Schneider off the payroll?

    2. How much will Corey Perry sign for, and for how long?

    3. Is Teemu Selanne going to play another year? If not, when's the retirement ceremony?

    4. Is there any truth to the rumors of Brian Burke pursuing a GM position in Toronto or Vancouver?

    5. What does the future hold for Jonas Hiller?
In the end, this bitter first-round pill wasn't that hard to swallow; such is the grace period effect of a franchise's first cup. I'm sure the postseason will be more stressful the next go-round. I'll have some Anaheim player grades and evaluations a bit later, but as has been my post-playoff tradition for two years now, I'm going to take a full week off from posting to catch my breath for a bit. For the next week, I'll just be a BoC reader/commenter, just to see how the other half lives. Let's hope the Ducks have an eventless seven days.

Mike, I'm bumping up your G7 post. Have a great week, everyone. Go Sharks.