Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ducks Gameday—A History Lesson

Anaheim Ducks (27-20-6, 4th in west) at Minnesota Wild (28-19-3, 5th in west)

First off, tip of the hat to Steve Lepore from KK for offering this info: tonight's Versus telecast will be called by John Ahlers, John Vanbiesbrouck, and Jack Edwards. I remember when I first heard about Ahlers, the Ducks' regular play-by-play guy, getting a Versus gig. Somebody had started a thread at a Ducks messageboards in all caps: "AHLERS ON VERSUS!!!"

When I first saw the thread title, I thought, "Hey, that's really cool. I never pay attention to the AHL because it's never televised down here. Finally, some AHLers on Versus!" Boy was I suckered.

Oops. The Hockey News will have to do a new cover with Selanne now.

At any rate, Ducks play Minnesota tonight for the last time this season, and in some ways, the Wild may be getting lucky. They managed to play the Ducks the last game before Scott Niedermayer made his debut, and the way things are looking they might be playing the last game before Teemu Selanne reassumes his #8. Of course, Wild fans hate the Ducks, and tough to blame them. Twice they've made the playoffs, and twice the Ducks have soundly beaten them.

This may sound hollow (and maybe on some level it is), but I do sympathize. You see, the first two times the Ducks made the playoffs, they met their demise at the hands of their archnemesis, the Red Wings. Detroit swept Anaheim in the second round of the 1997 playoffs and again in the first round of the 1999 playoffs. Two playoff appearances, two brutal deaths at the hands of the Red Wings.

So I guess the message I've got for Wild fans is that there is hope (and for Ducks fans, there is worry). Sure, now that the Ducks have added Selanne a lot of experts have been calling them favorites, and on paper, there's a lot to support that. Still, history offers a lesson that to my eye is way too parallel to ignore: 2003 playoffs, first round, Red Wings vs. Mighty Ducks. Detroit came in as the defending Stanley Cup champs with a history of beating the shit out of the Ducks (sound familiar?), and dressed a roster loaded with superstars (good enough to lead the league in scoring).

So what happened in this parallel tale? Another sweep, except of course this time things were different; this time the Ducks came out winners. Even though Detroit was the better team nearly every minute of that series, Giguere and the Ducks willed their way to a tight victory. And another. And two more. Four one-goal wins against a team that hadn't lost even three straight all season. Three years later, the Ducks eliminated Detroit again, evening the franchise score.

Of course, both Wing eliminations were made all the sweeter by the previous history, but here's the question: Could the Mighty Ducks of '03 have beaten that Red Wings squad if it didn't have that history of losing? Was there extra incentive for Anaheim, enough to will those wins? Was it a case of karmic due?

It's never that simple, of course (Giguere is a huge wrinkle in the bitterness theory), but the fact remains: I am very, very afraid of that eventual next series against Minnesota, whenever it occurs. Sure the Wild have been humiliated in the past and I've certainly enjoyed our end of that, but having seen both sides of the equation, I don't know if any team is as emotionally ready to overthrow the Ducks in a best-of-seven as the Wild are. And I don't think any team, even twice-beaten Detroit, is as due.

Prediction: This could be the Ducks' last game with an all-North-American lineup. I don't expect Selanne to play, and I guess Pahlsson's not up to snuff either. The Wild will be ready to battle, so let's hope the Ducks are, too. Ducks 3, Wild 1. Goals by Getzlaf, Marchant, and Beauchemin.

Go Ducks.


Kirsten said...

Earl Sleek, have I mentioned that you are my favorite Ducks fan? That being said, I hope my team absolutely beats the shit out of your team tonight, and especially in the playoffs should we meet. This year I will absolutely be flying home to see that, no matter what my coach says.

Oh and last time we played the Ducks, you guys definitely had Niedermayer. It's the time before that we narrowly espcaped having to face him.

I thought Pahlsson was coming back sooon?

Earl Sleek said...

Earl Sleek, have I mentioned that you are my favorite Ducks fan?

Probably because I'm such a terrible gloater. It stems from the Ducks' history that I've noted; it helps to have once rooted for a bottom-loving team.

And you're right about the last meeting, I was referring to the 2nd matchup of the year. I was at that game with high Niedermayer hopes; instead we got a swift 5-0 kick to the nuts before 2 periods were over.

I thought Pahlsson was coming back sooon?

He might even play, who knows? He's been day-to-day for months now.

Kirsten said...

Probably because I'm such a terrible gloater

I can accept gloating, as long as it's deserved for a good win. I admit, I broke my own rule when we barely beat the Red Wings in a shootout, but I figured it's the Red Wings and they had out scored us 9-1 in the last two games. Same thing will apply if and when we ever beat you guys in a playoff series.

Why the fuck didn't they just put Pahlsson on IR? What's he out with...I can't remember.

Earl Sleek said...

Pahlsson could play any day, really, I think retroactively they will put him on the IR to get some relief. He's got a groin strain or something, similar to what Gaborik had last year. Sammy played through it excellently through last playoffs, so I'm unsure what it would mean if he did play, but frankly, I can't wait. He's my favorite.

I can accept gloating, as long as it's deserved for a good win.

Oh, then you'll love this one, my gloatiest post ever. I take it back. I'm an excellent gloater.

RudyKelly said...

I think I would be a magnificent gloater. I hope one day to find out.

RudyKelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

your team did kick our ass 3-1...there u go gloat

Anonymous said...

"Anaheim Ducks (27-20-6, 4th in west) at Minnesota Wild (28-19-3, 5th in west)"

Thats pretty funny.

Go Ducks!

Earl Sleek said...

Well, every gameday post I've ever done hasn't been done on the real standings (division leaders getting the top three spots). Obviously if the playoffs started today, things would switch, but that's not really the case.

Pretty much I ignore games-played and tie-breakers and divisions and just go based on point totals. You might suspect that I'm being devious, but really, it's what I've done since I started doing GDPs.

There's plenty of places to go see "accurate" standings; hopefully nobody's trying to piece it together on my posts.

Earl Sleek said...

I guess it's my turn to say "fuck."

Everyone must be waiting for Teemu.

VeryProudofYa said...

Well this is just difficult to watch.

Earl Sleek said...

I'll probably bring this up on the next GDP, but I'll put it here so I remember. The Sucks have now lost four in a row, outscored 15-5, and it's almost entirely because they cannot score goals until the game is out of hand.

@DAL -- Dallas scores the first 3.
DET -- Detroit scores the first 2.
@LAK -- L.A. scores the first 3.
@MIN -- Minnesota scores the first 3.

I mean, wake up you knuckleheads! While I'd love them to score a first goal, that's not the disturbing part. When they fall behind by one, they lose it. And lose it bad.

A fucking 2-on-1 within 30 seconds of being scored on?! Teemu isn't going to fix that.

Kirsten said...

While I to say that post displays excellent gloating skills, it brings up some not so excellent memories of that playoff series. Just think about the last two playoffs, ES. That ought to cheer you up a bit.

VeryProudofYa said...

I could only think of one word during the brutal sodomy of the game, and that was 'lackadaisical'. Also I was thinking about sodomy.

Mostly the first thing, though.

On the plus side, I was endlessly amused by how Parros recoiled when Jigs furiously threw down his water bottle, causing a spray of droplets to hit George.

It was also interesting to watch JS angrily screaming at one of the assistant coaches.