The Franchise Best Series comes to you to dive into the all-time best single season for every organization. This, of course, includes post-season results. Join us for a look back at some of the most memorable moments in each franchise’s history. Here is the Anaheim Ducks best season.
Anaheim Ducks 2006-07 Season
Previous Year and Off-Season Additions
In 2005-06, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim saw their season end at the hands of eventual Stanley Cup runner-up, the Edmonton Oilers, in five games in the Western Conference Final. That summer, Anaheim had gone over many different redesigns. Though still mighty, new owners Henry and Susan Samueli rebranded the team as the Anaheim Ducks. The iconic eggplant and jade jerseys were scrapped. In their place came black, gold, and orange (an ode to Orange County, California). They also renamed their arena to the Honda Center.
In addition to their jerseys, Ducks looked new on the roster sheet as well. General manager, Brian Burke, completed a blockbuster trade with the Oilers on July 3rd, 2006. He sent Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smíd, their 2007 first round pick (Nick Ross), their 2008 second round pick (later traded to the New York Islanders)(Travis Hamonic), and a conditional 2008 first round pick if the Ducks reached the Final (Jordan Eberle). In return, they received All-Star defenseman, Chris Pronger. The 6’6″ blueliner had familiarity with success being a key staple in the Oilers roster that reached the Final a year prior.
Rolling Through The Regular Season
The Ducks had one of the soundest rosters in NHL history entering the 2006-07 season. Head coach, Randy Carlyle emphasized a heavy hitting team. Due to having some of the league’s toughest players, this came easy. Players like captain Scott Niedermayer, Pronger, Travis Moen, and George Parros, whom they traded for in November, all had the free range to intimidate and create room for their skilled guys to light up the scoring sheet.
One of the greatest players ever, Teemu Selanne was the driving force of Anaheim’s offence. While dazzling fans with his incredible speed and scoring, he also led younger skilled players such as Chris Kunitz, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf to also become key contributors to a lethal team. Selanne finished the season as the Ducks’ leader in goals and points with 48 and 94 respectively.
Backstopping Anaheim was the tandem of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Ilya Bryzgalov. Giguere was the clear starter after he had not lost a single regulation game in October that year. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2003 when the Mighty Ducks lost the Stanley Cup Final to the New Jersey Devils. Nevertheless, he was back to complete the mission and he was well on his way. They started the season 12-0-4 (an NHL record at the time) and 28-5-6 on December 26th. The Ducks began to slide slightly in January on the back of Bryzgalov but they never lost momentum. They returned back to absolute dominance in March, going 10-3-2 that month. On April 7th, the Ducks clinched the Pacific Division with 110 points. They finished with a record of 48-20-14.
The Toughest Tournament In Sports
First Round: Minnesota Wild
Giguere had had personal issues which gave Bryzgalov the starting role towards the end of the regular season and this carried into the first round against the Minnesota Wild. Nevertheless, Bryzgalov was a brick wall. It was a hard-hitting physical series. Anaheim went up three games to none and went into Minnesota looking for a sweep. The Wild stood on their heels and took an early lead in the game, leading Coach carlyle to pull Bryzgalov and give Giguere his first taste of playoff hockey that year. Despite this bump in the road, Giguere started Game 5 on home ice and propelled the Ducks to the second round.
Second Round: Vancouver Canucks
Next in line was Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks. Luongo had been riding one of the best seasons in the young goaltender’s career. Game 1 seemed to be much tougher to get the puck in the net as the netminder stood on his head as much as he could. However, All-Star centre, Andy McDonald put the team on his back that night as he recorded a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over Vancouver. Despite losing the next game, the next three swung in favour of the Ducks, winning the second round in five games, three of which required one or two overtime periods.
Third Round: Detroit Red Wings
The Western Conference Final did not come without a dramatic backstory. The last time the Detroit Red Wings and the Ducks met in the playoffs was 2003. J.S. Giguere and Anaheim swept them in the first round en route to the Final under command of head coach, Mike Babcock. However, Babcock joined Detroit following the 04-05 lockout and was coming into Anaheim with a vengeance. With a similar roster featuring star-studded scoring, defending, and goaltending, this clash would be highly contested. Players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, and Dominik Hasek matched up almost evenly against the well-rounded Ducks roster.
Each team split Games 1 and 2 with the latter being a Ducks win in overtime. Game 3 was a rout by the Wings in the Honda Center. Hasek stopped every shot that came his way, propelling Detroit to a 5-0 win. Anaheim responded in Game 4 with their own five-goal-game, winning 5-3 to even the series once again. The Ducks finished the job as they won Game 5 in overtime and Game 6 at home to earn a trip to the Stanley Cup Final and win the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.
Stanley Cup Final: Ottawa Senators
Facing another roster with several illustrious players, the Ducks were up against the Ottawa Senators in the Final. This time, their path to the Cup was blocked by one of the stoutest defensive pairings in Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov. Scoring half of the Sens goals throughout the playoffs, the “CASH line” consisted of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Dany Heatley, the latter of whom was coming off of a 50 goal regular season. Ray Emery backstopped Ottawa throughout the post-season winning 13 of 20 games. However, not even this notorious roster could outdo the greatness of the Ducks.
Games 1 and 2 both fell in Anaheim’s favour by the deciding factor of only one goal each. In Game 3, Volchenkov and Phillips held their ground as Anaheim was held to 22 shots on goal. Emery stopped 19 and secured a victory, cutting the series deficit in half. Game 4 was another slim victory for the Ducks as they won in the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
With the chance to win the Cup at home, Anaheim wasted no time in Game 5. Niedermayer and the rest of the defensive squad held the Senators to an abysmal 13 shots for the game. Towards the end of the second period, Phillips picked up the puck behind Emery’s net and in an attempt to bring it out front, he lost control and accidentally put it in the goal. Travis Moen was officially given credit but the eventual game-winning goal was scored by the Senators former first overall pick. Moen would earn his own goal later in the game, twice attributing to a 6-2 victory.
The Stanley Cup finally belonged to the Anaheim Ducks. Niedermayer was presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player throughout the playoffs. The first team to bring the Cup to California paraded through the streets of Anaheim later in June. They met with President Bush and presented him with his own jersey as per tradition on February 6, 2008. Though the franchise has come close, reaching the Western Conference Final in 2015 and 2017, they never have amassed such success as they had in 2007. Now at the helm of their team, Perry and Getzlaf continue to recreate the magic they once had done a little over a decade ago.
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