The Flying Monkeys.
Intercepted Communique Labeled Top Secret.
To: Randy Carlyle
From: Christy Finn
RE: Top 10
- 10. Cup Count. Anaheim: 13 players, total of 17 Rings. San Jose: 6 players, total of 9 Rings. The Ducks have more than half their roster full of men who’ve fully experienced the bitter battle and tasted the sweetness of Victory, drinking it freely from Lord Stanley’s Cup. They know what it’s like to heft that three foot trophy into the air, claim it as their own, and spend an entire summer celebrating their conquest. They also know the pain of watching something they’ve lain claim to pass on into the hands of another, the hands of an opponent, the hands of someone else. They’ll be driven to do what they can to give them another chance at re-claiming their lost treasure. And, more importantly, they know what they need to do, what kind of sacrifice, what kind of superhuman ability will be required – not asked – of them come puck-drop. Now, it’s go time.
- 09. Quacks No Longer. Once ridiculed as a joke, the Ducks long dropped their image as diminutive quacks trying to get people to take them seriously. Instead, they’ve adopted a rep for being a bully. It’s just like that kid you poked fun at when he was smaller, fatter, slower than you… until he grows up to become a lean, mean, hefty, muscled grown teenager with a long memory and a complex from all the teasing you put him through. Then, the funny business ends and the revenge of the one-time loser begins. Same story. Anaheim went from joke to yoked in a couple of seasons, bulldozing their way to the Cup in 2007. The 2009 Ducks aren’t too different from that squad. Some of the players have changed, but not the formula. Anaheim still boasts a line-up that doesn’t fear a pair of fists from the expected (George Parros) down to the unexpected (Bobby Ryan).
- 08. The Big 8. What can I say? I love Teemu Selanne. He’s a former Shark, so there’s a little added incentive to gain the upper-hand. Nevermind that the Sharks have a couple ex-Ducks who were part of the Cup-winning team in 2007, so clearly they have some added incentive to up their game against Anaheim. Still, with Selanne entering his waning years in the league, I’m sure he’ll be pumped up to make this run a good one. If anything, he’ll definitely be a problem for the Sharks if he gets the chance to. He’s ranked 5th in the NHL with 16 PPGs.
- 07. 4-on-4. No, not the play. I’m talking about Claude Lemieux’s four Cup Rings vs. Scott Niedermayer’s four Cup Rings. Lemieux, at age 43, may not have enough gas in the tank to push him through a grinding series against the Ducks. He’s one of those guys who can elevate his game when it comes down to playoff time and can provide veteran presence for the young Sharkies, but he’s got nothing but his age to beat out Anaheim’s four-time Cup winner, Scott Niedermayer. Scotty’s got a 8 year advantage on Lemieux at the ripe, youthful age of 35, and who’s still at the top of his game, all day, everyday. Scotty’s won every single major hockey championship in his career, from the Memorial Cup, World Junior Championship gold, World Championship gold, Olympic gold, four Stanley Cups, and the World Cup of Hockey. Advantage: Niedermayer. Come to think of it, Scotty always comes with the advantage… So, advantage: Anaheim.
- 06. Double D. As in, defense. Anaheim’s got the blueline special backing them up all the way to the crease, and the line runs deep. Two Norris Trophy winners beef up the blueline in Scott Niedermayer and rough-and-tough (maybe too-tough) Chris Pronger, and the newly returned Boom-Boom specializer, Francois Beauchemin. Added into that mix is Ryan Whitney who played a big role in defending his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to the Finals in ’06.
- 05. Streaky Sneaky. The Ducks fumbled through much of their season, until they pulled it together to run a hot 7-2-1 record in their last 10. The Sharks, on the flipside of things, fumbled a bit with a 5-4-1 Last-10 record. If they keep that up, they’ll end up repeating history and being shown the door by their younger, southerner siblings. If the Ducks keep up their hotness, they’ll streak right on past the Sharks, but it definitely won’t be easy.
- 04. You Score, I Score. Anaheim’s offensive talent tips heavily in the direction of the Big Boys on the Numero Uno line, yet Scott Niedermayer, Rob Niedermayer* and Chris Pronger nailed over 10 goals each, indicating that offense can come off any line and at any given time. Most of the opposition will cite the chunk of goals bearing the Perry-Ryan-Getzlaf or Selanne name to mean that if they can shut them down, they’ll lock the quarterfinal up in their favor. I wouldn’t be so sold on that argument if I was San Jose since the name of the game is Step It Up (also known as: Win or Go Golfing), I’ll guarantee some playoff heroes will emerge when others are overly-focused on the moneymakers. [*No word on how many of those goals were empty-netters. Safe to say, a lot of 'em were.]
- 03. Monster Goalie. Okay, so he’s had his crappy moments this season, still J.S. Giguere has the ability to steal some games if need be (since it's a safe bet that Jonas Hiller will get the nod before J.S. does). But he’s done it before, he can definitely do it again. In 2003, he tossed the whole of the bench on his back and heroically carried them to within one game of Cup glory. In 2006, he brought us to the WCF where we lost to the eventual Cup-winners. And in 2007, he backed us up the distance and enabled us to snatch the Cup from Ottawa. Despite his less-than-impressive season, Jiggy still has it in him… he just needs to lay it all out on the ice and get the job done. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
- 02. Chew Up Cheechoo. That’s not necessarily a real reason why Anaheim ought to win, but really, something’s got to be done about that little sniper. Anaheim’s got the manpower to do it. The question that remains is will Anaheim find a way to take Cheechoo-choo down?
- 01. SoCal > NorCal anytime, anyplace. ‘Nuff said. Bring it on, NorCal. The Ducks are hella ready.
Some interesting stuff up there. Needless to say, this will be a good series, filled with emotional, rivalry-filled games and a few choice texts and tweets swapped between McP and Finny. Yes, we’ve got plenty of beer in the fridge for game-watching. It’s a good thing, too – we’re on 24/7 patrol - Casa McP is on lockdown after the Radical Redhead herself found an intruder from GwaP hacking into her precious new laptop. Maybe Finny was up to the same tricks we were. Well played, Quack-fan, Well played.