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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

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.


brokeyard said...

Wow, I'm particularly rooting against the Sharks. Anyone but them, really.

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, I should point out that in a couple ways, I'm a very atypical Ducks fan. I really don't hate the other BoC teams the way I'm supposed to.

But don't worry, once Jumbo Joe takes his annual summer vacation I'll be sure to point it out repeatedly.

Anonymous said...

The Avs found out how ineffective the dump and chase game worked against Dallas a few years ago, when Turco was coming out to stop the puck every time. You can't dump and chase lightly against a goalie who can handle the puck as well as him.

I was surprised that the Ducks pulled out game 5. I figured them a dead team skating after the 5-2 loss. They held up OK after that, all things considered.

RudyKelly said...

I don't know how people cheer for other teams once their teams lose. It's not that I'm cheering against the Sharks, I just think I'm incapable of cheering for anyone that doesn't have that Kings crest on their chest.

Oh wait, I totally am cheering against the Sharks because I don't want the Kings to be the only California-based team to never have won a cup. Nevermind what I just said.

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, I should have mentioned. This was even on dump-ins that Turco couldn't get to (the Ducks were actually pretty good at the non-Turco dump-in), but even on those the Stars were well-prepared.

I don't know how people cheer for other teams once their teams lose.

Well, it's not heavy rooting; I won't get my heart broken or anything. Still, I do have preferences.

Oh, and I totally forgot. Spade sent me a Victorhell-Original cartoon to post once the series was over. I'll post that tomorrow, and then continue that week off.

Ang said...

It's easy to cheer for other teams when yours is out. Last year after the Sharks was out, I cheered for every team the Ducks were playing. Unfortunately the Ducks still won. Maybe if I cheered for the Ducks they would lose? Oh wait, they did this year anyways. GO SHARKS!

Earl Sleek said...

Unfortunately the Ducks still won.

You must not have been using your lucky green shirt effectively.

Kirsten said...

I don't know, Rudy, but I managed to get my heart broken pretty badly in 2006. (That may or may not be because the Oilers were my team from age 5-12)

I'm all about the Canadiens winning the Cup. I want to go to Montreal and party when they do.

I wonder if Brian Burke will allow Nieds and Selanne to dink around this season like he did last season, or if he will demand that they make a decision. I'm guessing they have to, since Burke has some finances to straighten out.

Earl Sleek said...

Burke's been pretty clear on the retirement subject. It was a one-time deal for the Ducks, and he won't have any of it this summer.

Then again, if Burke leaves, maybe his strong opinion goes with him, who knows?

You'll note I have Burke's choice fourth on my "importance" list. I like the guy a ton, and hope he stays, but I think this team's in decent shape if he wants to go bleed TO blue.

I want to go to Montreal and party when they do.

Better bring your riot gear. Sheesh, if that's what's going to happen when a 1-seed beats an 8-seed, a cup win could take the city of Montreal off the map.

brokeyard said...

Well the decision for those guys might be easier because they don't have to ask themselves "Do I want to go out on a Cup win?"

Bryan said...

As far as cheering for a team, I would cheer for the Kings in the playoffs, since it means more local TV coverage since I don't have a NHL tv package. As far as the Ducks keeping the puck from Turco, I'd say he was as active as ever. Turco played pretty huge in Game 4, not sure if I'd count that as stealing a game though but it was big.

As far as refereeing, I hate the ref you suck chant with a passion but that puck over the glass in the 3rd period of game 6, would have been nice.

Barnes and Ott I thought had huge series. Considering combined they make less than half of what Ribiero makes, holy crap.

See I think Burke since the cup victory has done a lot of bad for the Ducks. As I've said, if Niedermayer and Selanne don't come back, the Ducks will struggle to make the playoffs.

As a season ticket holder, the first round loss sucks, since we had to put up with a Niedermayer and Selanne-less team hoping it would pay off in the playoffs.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

Thanks for the credit to the Stars, Earl. I like to think the Stars played pretty well, rather than putting it all on the Ducks.

I'm sure next season will be the Ducks' bounce-back season, now that the Cup fallout can settle.

Anonymous said...

The better team won this series. As frustrating as the reffing was, it went both ways & IMHO didn't affect the outcome (the ref you suck chant was WAY overused & only served to cement the know-nothing rep of the fans).

My humble thoughts on the downfall: too much emphasis on defense. There was no offense & it takes goals to win a game. Hopefully BB will see that & make appropriate adjustments.

Anonymous said...

I am an OC native and Ducks fan. I have also been living in the Bay Area for a number of years and have been to my share of Sharks games. Now, I would really like to join you, Sleek, and cheer on the Sharks - if anything, as a show of solidarity for our state, plus my significant other is a huge Sharks fan. But, do you have any idea how much Sharks fans hate, HATE the Ducks? We're talking seething lynch mob hatred -just go to a Sharks v. Ducks game in San Jose (if you haven't already) and you will see what I am talking about. For example, I was at Sharks v. Calgary game 2 last week, and when they displayed the Ducks' losing score v. Dallas, the crowd cheered almost as loud as when the Sharks score a goal. I just find it extremely hard to support the same team as people who hate our team so much.