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Glimmers of hope for the depressed Ducks fan

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How epic is this long-awaited postseason BoC? Check it out, it’s even created a buzz in far-off Eternia:

By the power of Gretzky, I.. have.. the.. POWER!

Now I’m not really sure how most Ducks fans are feeling about this imminent Ducks-Sharks matchup, but I imagine at least some are stressed or depressed at the likelihood of mighty San Jose ending Anaheim’s season. It’s certainly a legitimate fear, as the Sharks have been the class of the league pretty much since game one this season. I’m a little more aloof, I suppose, since I already gave the Ducks’ season up for dead back in March – this truly feels like bonus hockey to me (the BoC matchup makes it even a bigger bonus), and I’m ready for anything.

Still, for the distressed, here's a few trends Ducks fans can pin their hopes on:

  • In the postseason, ties tend to go Anaheim's way.   From a series perspective, Anaheim has never lost a series where it has won at least one of the first two games.  Seven times a Ducks team started a series 2-0 and three times a Ducks team started a series 1-1, and Anaheim has won 'em all.  On the other hand, they have lost all five series where they have dropped each of the first two games.  From a single-game perspective, Anaheim has won an incredible 13 of its last 15 playoff games that have gone to overtime.  Of course credit for that largely goes to J.S. Giguere, who is an amazing 12-1 in playoff OTs -- 250 minutes, 43 seconds of OT, 115 shots-against, 1 goal-allowed.  Sick.
  • Carlyle's Ducks have never been swept on the road in a series.  This could be a big one, especially with San Jose's firm love of home ice.  Over the last three postseasons (Carlyle's tenure), Anaheim carries a 12-8 road record, having picked up at least one road win against each opponent they've played.  San Jose may be a loud arena to play in, but that's not that different from Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Minnesota, Vancouver, Detroit, Ottawa, or Dallas.
  • The Ducks have personnel who have excelled as bottom seeds.  There maybe has never been a better performer as an eighth seed as the 2006 version of Chris Pronger, and even though he may or may not step on the ice, the 2003 version of Giguere probably had the best performance ever as a seventh seed (we can add Rob Niedermayer as an experienced throw-in).  Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, and Scott Niedermayer all had success in 2006 as sixth seeds, although they only had to play one series starting on the road.  Dating back to 2003, Anaheim has won five of its last six series that started on the road, and since 2003 they've defeated 1 defending-cup-champion, 2 defending-western-conference-champions, 2 number-one seeds, and 5 division winners.
  • As mentioned yesterday, the Ducks are 2-for-2 against top seeds in the west; the Sharks are 0-for-1 against bottom seeds in the west.  The Ducks beat the top-seeded Stars in 2003 in six games and the top-seeded Wings in 2007 in six games; the Sharks lost to the eighth-seeded Oilers in 2006 in six.

Now franchise-postseason-trending is not necessarily a lot to hang your hat on (certainly the Ducks are a much different team than they were in '03, and even '06), and it's quite possible that the Sharks will put a few dents in these impressive playoff records.  But still -- it's not like these Ducks have never been on the underdog side of a series before; they typically have done very well when the odds are stacked against them.

And mark my words: the odds are squarely against them in this series -- but that's the beauty of playoff hockey.  No matter how much the spreadsheets tell us that the Sharks have been the best team in hockey this season, neither team is bound or boosted by previous results.  The puck will be dropped for a scoreless game at the start of G1 on Thursday, and that's where this series will begin to be decided.  If the Ducks can somehow recapture the upstart spirit that carried them in '03 or the first round of '06, watch out -- San Jose may be a giant, but if the right Ducks team shows up, Anaheim does have a rich history of giant-killing.  Should be exciting.

Go Ducks.