Narratives can change pretty quickly during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Anaheim Ducks were a strong example of that in the past few days.
The Ducks were a couple of minutes away Sunday night from losing for the third time in four games to the Dallas Stars in their Western Conference First Round series, and facing a Game 7 at Honda Center in the opening round for the second straight season.
Instead, Anaheim forged an incredible comeback, scoring twice in the final 130 seconds of regulation to force overtime and again at 2:47 of the extra period in Game 6 to finish off the Stars and advance to the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Anaheim will face one of its California rivals in the Western Conference Second Round. The Ducks haven't advanced past the second round since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007, and Bruce Boudreau has yet to do so in his first six seasons as an NHL coach.
Here are five reasons why they will have a chance to do so:
1. Ryan Getzlaf, early Conn Smythe candidate
The simple reason: Anaheim is 4-1 when Getzlaf plays, and he has three goals and seven points in five games. The Ducks lost Game 3 when Getzlaf was trying to play through a facial injury for the first time and Game 4 when he couldn't go.
Getzlaf returned in Game 5 and had a three-point night. He faced the toughest competition of any player in the first round, according to ExtraSkater.com's quality of competition metric. When the Ducks needed to slow down Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin in the third period of Game 5, Getzlaf's line was a big part of that.
He's been the team's best player all season and is likely going to be a Hart Trophy finalist. He and Corey Perry were not great in the 2013 playoffs, but they have been so far in 2014.
2. Depth at every position
The Montreal Canadiens were able to use the same 19 players for every game in a sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The San Jose Sharks were able to use the same 19 players for the first five games against the Los Angeles Kings. Anaheim has already used 25 players, but unlike the Lightning (who also used 25), the Ducks have advanced and the depth is a big reason.
It started with Boudreau choosing rookie Frederik Andersen in goal instead of Jonas Hiller to start the series, but Hiller playing well when called upon in Game 6. The Ducks lost defensemen Stephane Robidas and Hampus Lindholm to injuries, but Luca Sbisa played well in emergency duty. Up front, the Ducks lost Getzlaf for a game, but Boudreau also tinkered a lot because he has so many options.
Depth might be the biggest advantage the Ducks have if they end up engaged in a long series with either the Sharks or Kings.
3. Even the odds with extra man
Dallas was a better team at even strength, particularly as the series progressed. Anaheim counteracted a lot of that with seven power-play goals, the most of any team to this point in the first round.
Four of those extra-man goals came in Game 5, when the Stars outplayed the Ducks for long stretches but Anaheim overwhelmed them on the power play.
4. Succeed against others
Benn and Seguin terrorized the Ducks in this series. The Stars had more than 61 percent of the shot attempts at even strength when those two players were on the ice, but when they weren't, Anaheim was often the better team.
This goes back to the issue of depth, but the Ducks were able to survive Benn and Seguin going toe-to-toe with Getzlaf and Perry because the other players were able to contribute when needed.
5. Comebacks are all the rage
The first round of the 2014 playoffs has been full of improbable comebacks, and the Ducks were able to advance because of one. Anaheim trailed by two goals in Game 6 with less than three minutes in regulation, but the Ducks poured on the pressure against Dallas and the Stars cracked.
At one point in the third period, Dallas had 46 non-blocked shot attempts (Fenwick) at even strength in the game to Anaheim's 23. The Ducks closed with 16 of the final 18, including the final 13 of the game, including the goal on the only non-blocked attempt of overtime.
Nick Bonino started the comeback and finished it with goals, and in between Devante Smith-Pelly, who wasn't in the lineup at the start of the series, scored his second of the night as well to force overtime.
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