It's a sad day for us.
It didn't quite hit me last night. Even after the final horn sounded and our Ducks were down 3-4 three minutes after the Wings sealed it with a push-goal, I didn't look at the loss as THE END.
I mean, it was a huge game and I was definitely sad that we lost. Our boys battled like true heroes, closing a 2-goal lead not just once, but twice. Yeah, we lost this one, but you felt like you just had to regroup, refocus, and get ready for the next one.
The next one.
Which, for our Ducks, will be next season.
And then today, it hit me. The playoffs will continue without stories being written about our strong veteran D-line. About our young Legion of Doom offensive line of Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf. About our phenomenal rookie netminder. Getzlaf, in the ranking of top playoff point scorers, will stay frozen at his current number, while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin continue to add to theirs.
At least Alex Ovechkin is out too. Not that I necessarily dislike Ovechkin, but I'm more of a Pens fan than a Caps fan so... yeah. I'll be rooting for ex-Duck Chris Kunitz and his Pittsburg Pens to take the cup.
I know I'm not alone when I say our Ducks should be proud of how they performed. They did so well and fought so hard. First, in their push just to MAKE the playoffs. After a lackluster regular season, nobody even expected the Ducks to place. But they grabbed onto that eight seed and kept right on pushing.
They pushed the San Jose Sharks out of yet another cup run. And this time, the Sharks couldn't even get to their second round stumbling block.
Rather unfortunate, actually. Home state rivalry aside, I do respect the Sharks and their fans. I felt bad for a second or two after seeing the crushed expressions on the faces of mighty Joe Thornton and Jeremy Roenick. But for only a second or two.
The Ducks met their semi-conference final opponent in stride. Knowing how difficult it would be to upend the Detroit Red Wings, I was looking forward to the series, but not looking forward to having to deal with the Detroit fans at home games. I know every team has its share of rude, idiotic fans, but I've loathed Detroit fans most for a reason.
And wasn't it indeed a very good series? I couldn't have asked for a more heart-pounding, gut-wrenching match up.
We were never the favorite to win. Hell, we weren't even supposed to make the post season. But our Ducks did. They knocked off the number one seed and drove the number two seed all the way to seven games. And even in that seventh game, Detroit didn't nab the win until three minutes before the final horn sounded. I know I wasn't the only one thinking that, if we beat the Wings, the cup would have been ours. Lots of people still believe the cup lies with whoever won that Detroit/Anaheim series.
So, my dearest Duck faithful, it might be a sad day for Duck hockey, but there's no reason why you shouldn't be proud of your team. Hold your heads high and know that our boys showed hard-hitting skill and talent, grit and determination. Our Ducks reminded the hockey world that they were cup champs two years ago and that they still have a lot of what it takes to win the cup again. We boasted the illustrious veteran prowess of Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Teemu Selanne, and Todd Marchant. We showed good trade deadline decisions by acquiring and utilizing valuable components like Mike Brown and James Wisniewski. We unveiled a little-known secret weapon named Jonas Hiller. We demonstrated just how dangerous the Ryan/Perry/Getzlaf line can be, and they'll only get better as they mature. The future is nothing but bright.
Be excited and proud to call yourselves Anaheim Duck fans. For a little town in sunny Southern California, we've got some great hockey to look forward to.
"The biggest thing is just his poise and his hands are unbelievable. I played with [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby, and those guys are probably the two best in the league. Bobby's hands are right with those guys... He's a superstar in the making, it seems."
---Ryan Whitney, former Ducks defenseman
Friday, May 15, 2009
It's a sad day for us.