Is it wrong to feel like a kid at Christmas when the NHL playoffs begin? Especially when my team is playing?
Tonight, the real season begins for 16 teams. This is what the regular season was building up to. The points mattered before, but now they really matter.
Sixteen teams and only one of them will have 16 wins by the time June rolls around. That is the team that gets the honor and privilege of hoisting the Stanley Cup.
For the Ducks, they won both the Pacific Division as well as the Western Conference. That gives them home ice advantage for at least the next three rounds. Assuming they get there.
First round begins against an old foe, the Dallas Stars. In Anaheim’s Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003 they had to get past Dallas in the second round. They did that in six games, including a game one doozy that went to five overtimes before Petr Sykora clinched the 4-3 win. To date, it is still the fourth longest game in NHL history.
The Ducks also met up with Dallas in 2008, but the Stars took that series 4-2, with the Ducks just not ready for another long postseason run after having won the Cup the year before.
In the series clinching game in 2008, Stephane Robidas was the number one star for Dallas. This year, Robidas is wearing an Anaheim uniform, having been acquired at the trade deadline. Can’t think of one single Duck who isn’t happy to have Robidas on their side, instead of the other side.
2008 was also the last time the Stars made it to the postseason. This year, they qualified right at the end of the year, but don’t think that they will be walked all over in round one. Both teams know each other and this year, Dallas had the better record against in the regular season.
Anaheim, after slumping a wee bit, finished 9-2-1 to end the season and go into the post season with strong goaltending, albeit not from the expected source. Frederik Andersen is going to get the nod in net in game one. Not Jonas Hiller. Hiller has not played since April 6 and has been less than stellar. So much so, that both Andersen, a rookie with 28 games under his belt and even newer rookie, 20 year old John Gibson (three games), are the top two guys right now.
“I know what everyone’s going to say if we lose,” said coach Bruce Boudreau.
Doesn’t matter who they put in the net. If the Ducks lose, the decision would be questioned either way. And the Ducks do not want to lose, after going out in the first round last year to a more bitter foe in the Detroit Red Wings.
Unfinished business? You betcha.
Unfinnished business? You betcha. Teemu Selanne didn’t stick around for one final season just to go the Olympics for the sixth time in his career. He wants the Cup again. So does fellow Finn, Saku Koivu, who has never raised the Cup.
Both teams want it. Which one wants it more? Game one starts tonight. May the best team win.