Since the 1985-86 season when the Presidents’ Trophy was introduced, only 7 of the winners have won the Stanley Cup in the same season. Of course, only four other Presidents’ Trophy winners had lost in the first round of the playoffs (the most recent being the Detroit Red Wings, who lost to the Edmonton Oilers in 2006). The Ducks became the fourth team to knock the Presidents’ Trophy winner out in the first round of the playoffs. Were they surprised? Not at all. The whole playoffs, the Ducks have been saying they didn’t think they were out of their league and they could beat the Sharks. Clearly, they were right. Throughout the playoffs, I didn’t talk to many people who had predicted the Ducks would win before the playoffs started. Most people I talked to before the playoffs thought my Ducks in 6 prediction was completely nuts. They told me how the Sharks had performed in April didn’t matter and their history of collapsing in the playoffs didn’t matter. I disagree. The Sharks ended the season just cruising and barely hanging on to their league best record and while I realize that history isn’t always a good indicator of the future since teams change, a lot of the current team were a part of the Sharks teams that lost in the conference semifinals the last few years.
The start of the night (Getzlaf dropping the gloves as soon as the puck dropped – 2 seconds into the game – and fighting Thornton) may have surprised a lot of fans and media, but Randy Carlyle & Ryan Getzlaf were not surprised. They had discussed the Thornton/Getzlaf fight idea and whether it was a good idea. Carlyle told Getzlaf it was his choice. He said he’s never been the type of coach to send a player out to fight, but he was happy with Getzlaf’s choice.
Hiller continued to look amazing in net and though the Ducks couldn’t stay out of the penalty box for long (12 penalties, 30 minutes) neither could the Sharks, who had exactly the same penalty minutes. Hiller kept the Sharks to one goal on the power play (they were 1-4), while the Ducks went 2 for 5 on the power play.
Since they’ve beaten the team with the best record in the NHL this season, the Ducks have a lot of confidence going into the series against the Red Wings. The Red Wings clearly have an amazing playoff history and swept the Blue Jackets in the first round, but the Ducks still believe they can compete at a higher level than they have so far and face the Red Wings with confidence. After saying that they’d think about facing the Red Wings tomorrow and for now they’d enjoy their win, Randy Carlyle joked that he decided he’d give the team a half hour to enjoy the win, then it’s back to work.