| The Ducks set a new franchise record for home victories (including 10 in a row) on their way to making the postseason for the third straight time. |
It’s not exactly going out on a limb to declare that the Anaheim Ducks’ 2007-08 season was unlike any in the history of the National Hockey League.
It was a season that began in London with the first game of the NHL year and ended in Anaheim with the very last. A season in which the defending Stanley Cup champions had their team captain and leading scorer both undecided about retiring for the first few months before ultimately deciding to come back. A season where the team’s top goal-scorer in last year’s playoffs was traded away mid-season.
And despite a rollercoaster six-and-a-half months, a slow start that had the words “Stanley Cup hangover” uttered from Anaheim to Alberta, and a rash of injuries, the Ducks played their way into the postseason for the third straight year and secured the all-important home ice advantage for the first round.
The Ducks’ dominance at Honda Center during last year’s run to the Cup (where they won 10 of 12 home games) carried over to this regular season. Anaheim won a league-high 10 straight games at home from Feb. 17 through March 26 on their way to setting a new team record for home wins.
|The Ducks opened the NHL season with two games against the Kings in London, England. |
The Ducks started the year a very long way from home, opening the NHL season against the rival Kings at the new O2 Arena in London, England. And they brought with them a lineup that looked distinctly different than the one that blazed through last year’s playoffs. Missing were last year’s top scorer Teemu Selanne and captain Scott Niedermayer, both of whom remained undecided on their plans to retire when the season opened. Dustin Penner, who was second on the team in goals last year, departed in the offseason for Edmonton. Meanwhile, free agents Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu Schneider (both with Detroit last season) were among Anaheim’s new faces.
The Ducks also started the season without goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere and center Samuel Pahlsson, both of whom were recovering from abdominal injuries.
| Selanne (foreground) and Niedermayer each returned in mid-season, and each had an immediate effect on the Ducks’ fortunes. |
Anaheim dropped its first game in London to the Kings, 4-1, but came back the very next night with a 4-1 victory of their own behind rookie goalie Jonas Hiller and two Corey Perry goals.
The Ducks followed up the London trip with a swing through the eastern part of the United States, where they dropped three games at Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh. But in their home opener on Oct. 10, a night when they raised the Pacific Division, Western Conference and Stanley Cup banners to the Honda Center rafters, the Ducks knocked off visiting Boston, 2-1.
Still, unlike the previous season when they set an NHL record with points in their first 16 games, the Ducks looked to suffer the after-effects of their short offseason and got off to a rough start to 2007-08. They were just 15-15-4 through their first 34 games before undergoing a major development in their season. After Niedermayer announced his intention to return to the team, the Ducks were forced to make some moves to fit him under the salary cap. On Dec. 14 Anaheim traded longtime center (and last year’s team-leading playoff scorer) Andy McDonald to St. Louis for center Doug Weight and other considerations.
|Giguere was among the best goalies in the league in several categories. |
Both Niedermayer and Weight made their debuts two days later against San Jose. Although the Ducks dropped that game in a shootout, they went on to win 12 of their next 15 and established the league’s highest winning percentage since both players’ joined the lineup.
Anaheim had similar success when Teemu Selanne played his first game after joining the team during an unprecedented road trip that comprised eight games in 14 days. Selanne joined the lineup Feb. 5 at the New York Islanders, helping the Ducks win five straight and 11 of 12. That streak started with Anaheim becoming just the second team in NHL history to beat all three New York-area teams (Islanders, Rangers and Devils) in a span of four days.
That success helped push the Ducks to a third straight postseason berth, making them just the fifth team among the last 10 Stanley Cup finalists to make the playoffs the following year. Anaheim clinched its playoff spot with a 2-1 shootout win over the Kings on March 26, one a night when captain Chris Pronger was serving an eight-game suspension and four players (Giguere, Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Carter) were out with injuries.
In all, the Ducks had 17 players miss games with injuries this season for almost 160 man-games lost during the year (compared to just 102 last year). Perry missed the final 12 games of the regular season with a right quad tendon laceration suffered when he was cut by a skate at Colorado. Carter was out for six weeks when he broke his wrist on Feb. 20. The rookie had played well in filling in for Pahlsson, who despite setting a Ducks team record for consecutive games last season (which McDonald broke this year), missed 26 contests with abdominal injuries. Schneider, Bertuzzi, Brian Sutherby (a November trade acquisition) and Brad May also missed double-digit games with assorted ailments.
|Getzlaf (left) led the team in scoring, while Perry was the top goal-scorer despite missing the final 12 regular season games. |
Perry’s extended absence didn’t keep him from leading the team in goals with 29 (far surpassing his career high of 17). He and linemate Getzlaf were named to the Western Conference team for the All-Star Game, as were Niedermayer and Pronger, giving the Ducks more representatives in the game than they had ever had.
Getzlaf led the Ducks in scoring nearly the entire season, while recording a career-high 15-game point streak from Dec. 22 through Jan. 23 that tied for the second-longest in franchise history. Selanne became Anaheim’s all-time scoring leader (passing Paul Kariya) with his 670th point in a 4-2 victory Feb. 17 against Calgary. Giguere was among the league leaders in wins, goals against average and save percentage, while establishing new team records in career wins and shutouts.
Ducks fans set a record of their own, as Honda Center was sold out for 74 straight games dating back to last year (a streak that will continue this postseason). The Ducks currently have the third-longest active regular season sellout streak among U.S.-based NHL teams.
Top Ducks Moments in 2007-08
September 29-30, 2007
As part of NHL Premiere, Anaheim opens the season with two games against the rival Kings at the O2 Arena in London, England. Anaheim comes back from a 4-1 loss in the opening game with a 4-1 victory of their own behind a pair of Corey Perry goals.
October 10, 2007
The Ducks return to Anaheim for their home opener at Honda Center and raise their 2007 Pacific Division, Western Conference and Stanley Cup championship banners to the rafters before defeating Boston 2-1.
December 16, 2007
After flirting with retirement, 2007 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Scott Niedermayer makes his long-awaited return to the Ducks lineup in a 2-1 shootout loss to San Jose.
February 1, 2008
Although the Ducks lose a hard-fought battle 1-0 in a shootout, Jean-Sebastien Giguere passes Guy Hebert with his 28th career shutout to set a new franchise record.
February 5-8, 2008
During a whirlwind road trip, the Ducks see Teemu Selanne return to their lineup against the New York Islanders, visit the White House in commemorating last year’s championship and become just the second team in NHL history to beat all three New York-area teams (Islanders, Rangers and Devils) in a span of four days.
February 17, 2008
Teemu Selanne and Jean-Sebastien Giguere each break franchise records in a 4-2 victory over Calgary. With an assist on a Ryan Carter goal, Selanne passes Paul Kariya for career points as a Duck while Giguere bypasses Guy Hebert in career wins.
March 3, 2008
In a rematch of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, the Ducks once again prevail over the Ottawa with a 3-1 win at Honda Center. The rematch marks only the second time since 2003 that the two finalists met in the following season.
March 26, 2008
The Ducks win a franchise-record 10th straight game at Honda Center while also claiming their third straight playoff appearance in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Kings. Also in the win, the Ducks clinch the inaugural Freeway Face-Off rivalry series.
March 30, 2008
In a 3-2 shootout victory over Dallas, the Ducks establish a new franchise record for home wins in a season with 27.
April 5, 2008
In a 4-3 victory at the Kings, the Ducks reach 100 standings points for the second straight season (the only two times they've done it in franchise history).