There are many popular years being mentioned across the airwaves north of the US/Canadian border this morning.
The last year the Oilers won the Stanley Cup was in 1990. The Anaheim franchise hasn’t won on Edmonton’s home ice since 1999. The last team to come back from a 3-0 deficit was the New York Islanders in 1975 and before that it was the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942.
With all of the history aside, the bottom line for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim is that this team, in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs has been here before.
Let us journey all the way back to May 1, with Anaheim down to the Calgary Flames 3-2 in their conference quarterfinal matchup. With their backs held squarely against the wall, Randy Carlyle’s squad rattled off two straight wins. Game 6 was a 2-1 victory at home on Arrowhead Pond ice and everyone can surely remember the 3-0 shutdown applied by the Ducks to the defending Western Conference champions on their home ice in Game 7.
Sure, this is different. Sure, it’s 3-0 with the potential Oiler clincher to be played at Rexall Place. However, this season Ducks fans are armed with the knowledge that this Ducks club is likely the most resilient to ever skate in Anaheim.
Down 4-0 in the third period in Game 3 on Tuesday night, the situation looked hopeless. Four minutes into the third stanza, the Ducks started a parade to the penalty box. Chris Pronger rifled a slapper by Ilya Bryzgalov at the 4:40 mark of the third period whipping 16,839 Edmonton fans into a frenzied state.
They chanted “We want the Cup” and just prior to the Pronger tally, Georges Laraque did his best WWE superstar impression, “raising the roof” on his way to the penalty box and using the in-house Jumbotron to fire up the fans.
Then it clicked.
With the situation possibly as bad as you could ask for in a Stanley Cup playoff game, Anaheim did the unthinkable.
The Ducks took over the game for the remainder of the third period, scoring four goals in 13 minutes. Anaheim buzzed around Dwayne Roloson like angry bees just woken by the lawnmower on a summer day.
In the end it was a Fernando Pisani goal late in the period on a defensive zone breakdown off a faceoff that stopped the Anaheim rally and sealed the 5-4 Oiler victory.
But the late rush further proved that if there was ever a hockey club that could climb back into a series down 3-0 it is the 2006 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
You better believe there will be a fair share of brooms and purely unoriginal “roast Duck” signs in the Edmonton crowd for Game 4. And while the Edmonton faithful are looking to relive 1990 or any of their other four Cup years, the Ducks will merely be looking to build off that third period.
If the Ducks are to skate on Saturday at the Arrowhead Pond they will most certainly need a better start than they’ve gotten in the first three games of the series. The good news for Anaheim is that after Tuesday’s third period Roloson was proved beatable. In the first three games of the series, the Ducks efforts were rarely in question. Now, they will need to get something for that effort.
Anaheim has not managed a first goal in the series and hasn’t had a lead once in 180 minutes of hockey. Last night, the Ducks power play was 0-7.
Something’s got to give.
So, in the next day and a half when you hear that only two teams have ever come back from 3-0 playoff deficits or that the Oilers are 18-0 when leading a series 2-0 (nevermind 3-0), just think of the 2006 Ducks.
Think about the quarterfinals comeback from just a few weeks ago and think about the resiliency the Ducks showed last night during their third period domination.
Think about 2006 because since the New Year, each and every time we thought the Ducks were done, they weren’t.
So why start now?