By AJ Manderichio
The 2015-16 season was a wild ride that saw the Ducks erase a seemingly insurmountable 16-point deficit in the Pacific to earn their fourth consecutive division title on the final day of the regular season. After resuming play following the Christmas break, the Ducks went on a 34-10-5 run for the best record in the NHL (.745 points percentage). Anaheim led the league in wins (34), standings points (73), power-play percentage (27.5%), power-play goals (42), fewest goals allowed (104), goals allowed per game (2.1) and goal differential (+50), and ranked second in goals (154) and goals per game (3.1) and third in penalty killing percentage (86.9%) following the break.
The Ducks became the first team since 2010 and just the fourth since 2005 to post a .745+ win (73 points) percentage after the Christmas break in a full season (34-10-5). The Ducks finished the regular season 46-25-11 for 103 points, ranking first in the Pacific, fourth in the Western Conference and sixth in the NHL. It marked the third consecutive year the club has posted 100+ points, joining St. Louis and Chicago as the only NHL teams to do so each of the last three seasons.
AnaheimDucks.com will count down the Top 20 moments from past season in the coming weeks. Here is the first installment: 10-6.
#10: DECEMBER 29 AND DECEMBER 31, 2016
GOT THE SHUTOUTS GOING BACK-TO-BACK
The post-Christmas break stood as the make-or-break moment for the Ducks. Turning things around could vault them back into the playoff picture, but the task wouldn’t be easy – a quick stop home, followed by three straight road division games against Canadian opponents. Anaheim rose to the challenge, posting back-to-back 1-0 shutouts over the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to make it three straight wins after Christmas. Those two wins also set a club record for consecutive shutouts on the road and marked the first time an NHL team had accomplished the feat on the road since Nov. 1 & 3, 2014 by Winnipeg.
On a broader scale, many members of the team – and former head coach Bruce Boudreau – continued to reference this stretch of games when the Ducks turned around their season, noting it was then when the team decided to commit to a defensive style of hockey.
#9: FEBRUARY 13, 2016
THE CAPTAIN DELIVERS WIN NO. 800
The third and final meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks brought with it a unique opportunity – the chance to grab the 800th win in franchise history. The teams combined for a hard-hitting, tight-checking affair at a raucous United Center. Trailing by one goal early in the third period, Jakob Silfverberg tied the game on a net-mouth scramble. It remained there until the overtime period, when Ryan Getzlaf put home the game-winning goal.
Getzlaf extended his own personal franchise record to eight overtime goals, while handing Chicago just its second loss in two years when leading after two periods.
#8: FEBRUARY 21, 2016
THE IRONMAN MOVES UP
One constant remains in the Ducks lineup night after night – Andrew Cogliano, the rugged winger who continues to push his Ironman streak to new highs. He has yet to miss a game in his career, skating in 704 consecutive regular-season games. The streak is the longest active in the league and second-longest to start a career (Doug Jarvis, 964).
As his streak climbs, Cogliano continues to push his way past other Ironmen. This season, he surpassed division rival Henrik Sedin’s 679 consecutive-games played, giving him the sixth-longest streak in NHL history. To celebrate, he picked up an assist in the 5-2 win.
#7: MARCH 14, 2016
NICK RITCHIE GOES TOP SHELF FOR FIRST NHL GOAL
Rookie left wing Nick Ritchie couldn’t find his elusive first NHL goal in his first 24 games in the league. He hit numerous posts, saw bouncing pucks squeak wide and came oh-so-close plenty of times. In his 25th game, in the third period against the New Jersey Devils, he broke through.
The rookie had a smile from ear-to-ear postgame, saying, “I was pretty excited. It was 5-1 there, so it was kind of a meaningless goal, but with your first one, it means something. Some of the guys were excited, as well. I’m going to remember that one for a while.”#6: APRIL 10, 2016GIBSON AND ANDERSEN CLINCH JENNINGS
The two-headed monster of John Gibson and Frederik Andersen allowed a league-low 192 goals, winning the 2015-16 William M. Jennings Trophy and becoming the first Anaheim goaltenders to win the award in franchise history. Gibson finished the season with a 21-13-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against average (2nd, NHL) and .920 save percentage in 40 games. The 22-year old Pittsburgh native set franchise records for rookie goaltenders in games played (40), wins (21), GAA (2.07) and shutouts (4).
Andersen came on strong in the second half of the season, posting a 17-1-3 record following the Christmas break. He also limited the opposition to two goals or less in 29 of his 43 appearances and ranked second among NHL goaltenders in GAA (2.06, minimum 20 games) and tied for second in SV% (.926, minimum 20 games) from Christmas through the end of the regular season.