Justin K. Aller
With a season-high six-game road swing looming, what better time to take a look at how the Ducks have fared in the longest road trips of each of the last seven seasons?
As the Ducks prepare for their longest road trip of this shortened season — a six game, eleven day swing through the middle of the country — I think it's worth taking a look at how they have fared on long road trips in the past. In the last seven seasons, the longest trip of the year has been as short as five games (2005-06 and 2006-07) and as long as nine (2007-08). Believe it or not, the Ducks haven't played that poorly on these extended excursions. I'm going to take a quick look at each of them, and if you really don't have anything better to do, you might as well join me.
Length: five games in seven days
Dates: April 8 - 15
This late season road swing started off well, with a pair of 4-2 wins in Los Angeles and Vancouver, two teams that would miss the playoffs that year (The Kings missed the playoffs in the mid 2000s? Shocking, I know.) Unfortunately, the last three games took place in playoff-bound cities, and the then Mighty Ducks found themselves losing to the Flames, Oilers, and Sharks. Andy McDonald led the team in scoring over those five games, with eight points (3G, 5A).
2006-2007 (The only season with a tie for longest trip.)
Length: five games in nine days, then five games in 11
Dates: December 8 - 16, then December 23 - January 2
Record: 4-1-0, then 1-4-0 (That's 5-5-0 total, dummies.)
The Ducks spent the 2006 holiday season playing ten of 12 away from Honda Center, beginning with a rout of the Washington Capitals in which six different Ducks scored a goal. They would win the next three games in Southeast Division cities, but spend the rest of the month mired in mediocrity, which bothers absolutely nobody because they went on to win the Cup that season. Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald, and Scott Niedermayer led the team in those ten road games with 11, ten, and nine points respectively.
Length: nine games in 20 days
Dates: January 24 - February 12
This nine game odyssey still stands as the longest road trip in franchise history. For Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry, this trip actually consisted of ten games, if you include the All-Star game played in Atlanta on January 27. But the big story here was the return of Teemu Selanne. You'll recall that the Finnish Flash was flirting with retirement in the wake of the Cup win. He finally returned to play on February 5 against the New York Islanders, in the middle of this gargantuan road trip. Though he only picked up one goal and two assists in the five games that he played in, his presence certainly did something to help the team; the Ducks were winless (and shut out twice) in the four games without Selanne, but they won all five that he did play in.
Length: six games in 12 days
Dates: February 20 - March 3
Two of the Ducks' three wins came against teams that would miss the playoffs (Buffalo and Dallas), and the other came against Columbus, who, believe it or not, did make the playoffs that year. But still. It's Columbus. Oh, and halfway through the road trip the Boston Bruins put up six goals against the Ducks' zero. I'd say this road swing ranks somewhere between average and middle of the road.
Length: six games in 12 days
Dates: January 21 - February 1
The Ducks split the first two games of this jaunt in San Jose and St. Louis before heading to the Southeast, where they lost two in a row and then won two in a row. Two of the six games required a shootout, and James Wisniewski scored the winning goal in both of them. In Washington, the Ducks played one of their worst games of the season, surrendering 49 shots and 5 goals, while only scoring one. In Florida, Jonas Hiller stopped all 33 shots that came his way in a 3-0 win, one day after the Ducks had traded J.S. Giguere to Toronto. We needed something reassuring, right?
Length: seven games in 14 days
Dates: December 15 - 28
Really, these seven games were spread over two trips, one on either side of Christmas break. Ryan Getzlaf won the first of these seven games in overtime, handing the Capitals their seventh straight loss (I only remember that because of the 24/7 HBO show, and Bruce Boudreau's antics therein.) Luca Sbisa opened the scoring in the last of these seven games, a win against the Coyotes, with his first NHL goal. During these seven games, Corey Perry led the Ducks with seven points (4G, 3A).
Length: eight games in 14 days
Dates: February 10 - 23
Us Ducks fans tend to think of last year as two different seasons. Yes, our team was awful in the first half, but we came alive in the second half. The fact that the Ducks picked up twelve points in eight road games in the second half of the season should surprise nobody. This trip included three shootouts, of which the Ducks lost the first two in Detroit and New Jersey and won the last one in Carolina. With a win in Pittsburgh (that included a silky smooth and quite possibly offside Selanne goal), the Ducks climbed back to .500, something most observers would have thought impossible a couple months earlier.
In these seven seasons, the Ducks combined record on their longest road trips is 26-21-4. Here's to pushing that win total north of 30 on the upcoming trip.