Dallas Stars (35-21-5, 2nd in west) at Anaheim Ducks (32-22-7, 3rd in west)
Three consecutive games against Detroit, Colorado, and Dallas means I get to talk about the (former) Big 3 of the west. Back in the late 90s, this schedule would probably mean three consecutive losses, but that was in a stretch where that Big 3 made eight straight cup finals (1995 - 2002) and were victorious in six of them. Frankly, that probably should have extended into 2003, as the Big 3 were the top seeds in the west, but the hockey gods were tired of that routine and gave the power of elimination to a certain J.S. Giguere.
During those '03 playoffs, I was nowhere near blogging, but I did have write a regular set of e-mails called "Ducks Hype", in which I chronicled some of the amazing statistics accumulated during that miracle run. It was a very small operation (the distribution list had three recipients), but I thought I'd pull some of those notes from the Dallas series just for nostalgia's sake.
April 28, 2003 (following game 2):
6-0. Against Detroit and Dallas. Detroit, who hadn't lost three games in a row all season, managed to lose four in a row to Anaheim (five, actually, if you count the last regular season matchup). Dallas, who lost just five games at home during the season (one to the Ducks, though), now is at 2-3 at home in the postseason. And now they sit in the same boat as Detroit, who was also fairly confused by their 0-2 deficit.May 2, 2003 (following game 4):
1. Ten Ducks are in their first playoffs ever, including goaltender J.S. Giguere.
2. The Ducks scored their first powerplay goal of the postseason in G2, on their second 5-on-3 of the period, third of the series. Now they are 1 for 23.
3. The Ducks have been outshot in every game, a cumulated 171-120 from Detroit and 94-81 from Dallas. Combined, that's 265-201.
4. Sykora, their top goal scorer, now has but one goal (the 5-OT winner). Jason Krog, the fourth-line center, leads the team with three.
5. The Ducks have gotten zero goals from their defensemen.
Six wins, all by one goal. Four in overtime. Six different Ducks have game-winning goals. The Ducks have started 10 overtime periods (played a total of 132:43 of overtime total), been outshot in those overtimes 81-46, and Giguere has stopped every shot.
No goaltender in the playoffs has faced as many shots on goal as J.S. Giguere, even though a half-dozen have played more games than Jiggy. Through eight games, Giguere has faced 325 shots, and given up 13 goals. Khabibulin in 10 games has seen 299 shots, the second-most, and has allowed twice as many goals (26). Although no goalie has seen as many shots as Giguere has, there are twelve goalies who have given up more goals.May 7, 2003 (following game 6):
How good is Jiggy's .960 save percentage? Consider this. Currently, Patrick Lalime is second in the league with a .940 save percentage (14 goals allowed on 232 shots). In order for him to get his save percentage up to .960, he would have to stop the next 118 shots on goal.
Lalime is also second in the league in Goals Against Average (Lalime: 1.48, Giguere: 1.27). In order for Lalime to lower his GAA to Jiggy's level, he would have to play almost 94 minutes of shutout hockey.
Lastly, although the Ducks do have a postseason record of 7-1, ironically they have spent more time trailing than leading in this postseason. They have played a total of 612:43, and they have spent 120:14 trailing vs. 118:58 leading. The reason for this discrepancy actually makes a little sense--since more than half their wins came in sudden-death overtime, they get credit for zero time with the lead.
How can you say it's not magical? In all four Ducks wins against the Stars, they scored the game-winner on their final shot of the game.As I reflect back, "magical" might be the right term to describe that playoff year. Even though it ended in G7 tragedy, I think that 2003 playoffs will remain the most special to me, as it really came out of nowhere and featured Anaheim's first toppling of the Big 3 dynasty. Nowadays, it isn't as big a deal; from 2003 to present, the Ducks have eliminated the Big 3 a total of four times, including two sweeps. Still, here's the question for Duck fans: which playoff year or playoff series was the most special for you?
How can you say it's not magical? In all six games of the series, the Stars were either tied or ahead with 2 minutes left in regulation.
In two series, then, the Ducks have won 8 one-goal games, and in 7 of those 8 wins, the game winner was after the 55-minute mark of the game.
Prediction: The Ducks have edged out the Red Wings and Avalanche; why not make it a Big 3 sweep? Ducks 3, Stars 2. Goals by Perry, Pahlsson, and Pronger.