I don't know about you readers, but as for this series, I've had an absolute blast getting to look back at the amazing year the Anaheim Ducks have had. Everything from the performances of the new players, to the emergence of new superstars, to the electric plays of the twins has piled together to make one hell of a year to celebrate Anaheim's 20th season.
With that being said, this final category is reserved for the greatest single moments of the season. The biggest goals, the funniest trolls, and the most emotional moments that helped to shape this wild roller coaster from start to finish.
This is without a doubt the biggest poll of this series, but to be honest leaving out any of these moments would be selling them short, as there were many others that very easily could have made the list as well.
And the nominees are...
The Winnipeg Comeback
This one missed the nominees for both best and worst game of the season because for all intents and purposes I consider it to be a wash.
For two periods the Ducks played awful. And I mean my beer league team would have run circles around them.
Because that's what the Winnipeg Jets did and we're about the same (supposedly).
And then the Ducks got one late in the second period from Nick Bonino and you could see the belief creep into the team.
When Ryan Getzlaf scored just three minutes into the third period to cut the lead to two, it was almost immediately game on.
A goal from Hampus Lindholm just over a minute later, and then a dramatic last-second equalizer from Corey Perry sent the game to overtime, where Stephane Robidas scored his first goal as an Anaheim Duck to end the game and complete the greatest comeback in franchise history.
Corey Perry Trolls Patrick Roy
This year has certainly not been without humor. Whether it was a Dustin Penner tweet, or a joke from Ryan Getzlaf, or an interview with Coach Bruce Boudreau, this year has had its fair share of moments of hilarity.
But perhaps none surpassed the antics of ultimate-troll Corey Perry.
With the Ducks leading the Colorado Avalanche late in their first rematch since the infamous glass-destruction incident, Corey Perry decided to exact a little revenge on the hotheaded French Canadian with perhaps the best troll of the year league-wide.
OT Buzzer Beater No. 1 - Corey Perry vs. Vancouver
Corey Perry makes another appearance on this list for even more late-game heroics.
The Vancouver Canucks led 3-2 heading into the final minutes of play on a Sunday evening in January. That is, until a late goal from Nick Bonino tied the game sending it to overtime.
A tense four-plus minutes resulted in nothing until literally the last second. The Canucks defense backed away from Ryan Getzlaf, assuming the game was going to the shootout, which gave Getz enough time to find Corey Perry in behind them onside. Perry then slipped the puck underneath Eddie Lack with less than a second remaining to send Canucks fans back to complaining and whining on Twitter.
OT Buzzer Beater No. 2 - Ryan Getzlaf vs. Tampa Bay
Yet another insane game that ended with some overtime heroics.
Anaheim, just days after getting rocked in Tampa Bay were at home to face the Lightning once again. Knowing now that Tampa Bay is a playoff team with a legitimate shot at reaching the Stanley Cup Final, it makes the fact that this game was super close more understandable.
But oh my was it ever a nail biter.
Both teams came up with some incredible chances and both Jonas Hiller and Ben Bishop stood on their heads, daring the guy on the other end to do better (which he did).
This game ended 0-0 after 60 minutes and went into a heart-attack inducing overtime session. This too looked as though it would prove fruitless until the captain and likely Hart Trophy nominee Ryan Getzlaf put the team on his back, carried the puck in on an outnumbered break and took a shot that barely trickled past the Tampa netminder and over the line. All of this happened with only five seconds remaining.
If anyone ever tells you a 0-0 hockey game is boring, show them this game. Their minds will forever be changed.
John Gibson's NHL Career Begins with a Shutout and a Division Win
John Gibson has had some high expectations caked onto him after his lights-out performance at two consecutive World Junior Championships, and winning Goalie of the Month in the AHL. Oh, and did I mention The Hockey News recently named him the number-two prospect in hockey at the moment? Not just out of goalies... out of all players.
Talk about having a big name to live up to.
Gibson didn't have to work too hard, but he did make a total of 18 saves on 18 shots to record his first NHL victory and likewise his first NHL shutout.
Two days later, Gibson found himself back in the net for the biggest game of the Ducks season, where he backstopped the Ducks to a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks to clinch the Pacific Division.
Getzlaf Smokes Buffalo for a First Period Hatty
I will forever be extraordinarily angry about this nominee.
I was taking my girlfriend to her first ever NHL game, and this one was one I was sure the Ducks were going to win. I wanted her to experience everything. I wanted her to feel the thunder of the Ducks goal horn rattling her rib cage. I wanted her to hear the roar of the crowd that has other fans starting to take notice. And I wanted the game to be something that she would remember forever so she would keep coming to them with me.
Then the 405 freeway happened.
It took me two hours and twenty minutes to get from Van Nuys to Honda Center. All the while we got to LISTEN TO GETZLAF SCORE A FIRST PERIOD HAT TRICK ON THE RADIO.
I have been to hundreds of games in person and I have seen hatties before... but I have NEVER SEEN A HAT TRICK IN PERSON AND I MISSED IT BECAUSE OF IDIOTS RUBBERNECKING ON THE FREEWAY.
Not to mention the disappointment of missing out on the opportunity for her to experience the uniqueness of a hatty.
End of story.
Hampus Lindholm’s First Career Goal
It didn't take long for us to fall in love with Hampus Lindholm, and come on, who could blame you? His beautiful blonde curly hair, and those beautiful blue Swedish eyes, combined with a face that oddly resembled the Gerber baby... ladies (and some dudes) are swooning across the Ducks fanbase.
Oh and did we mention he's pretty darn good at hockey too?
Lindholm cracked the lineup out of training camp when an unfortunate severe injury to Sheldon Souray kept him from playing, and oh did he ever make the most of it.
Almost immediately it became apparent that the young man was something special and in no way wanted to go back to the AHL anytime soon.
So it was perhaps fitting that when he finally notched his first NHL goal, everyone went absolutely bonkers, including his father, who had flown in from Sweden to watch his son play in the NHL for the first time.
Just look at that smile on his face. It's hard not to love this kid.
Teemu Selanne wins bronze and Olympic MVP
In what he's announced as his final year, Teemu Selanne went absolutely crazy at what would also be his final Olympics.
Despite so many of the big guns from his team going down to injuries before the tournament started, Finland proved exactly why everyone calls them "the pesky Finns" by dinking Russia and then the United States on their way to a Bronze medal finish.
Teemu came home with some hardware, and the honors of tournament MVP from Sochi to boot, capping off an Olympic career that sees him sit atop the all-time scoring list with five Olympiads under his belt.
Despite the hard feelings the US is still having about their own performance (or maybe that's just me), it was still amazing to see Selanne's dedication to his sport and his love for his country come out whist celebrating that bronze medal as though it were gold.
Andrew Cogliano’s EN to seal Stadium Series
The clock at Dodger Stadium was winding down, grey and black-clad Kings fans were pouring for the exits as though this were literally any Dodger game, and the Ducks led 2-0.
That is, until Andrew Cogliano put the final nail in the Los Angeles coffin with an empty netter that sealed the deal for Anaheim.
And this time, you could really hear the Anaheim faithful, who had been so drastically outnumbered at Chavez Ravine for this game, let out a massive roar. With few Kings fans left to drown it out with their booing, there could be no mistake on the television cameras.
But what makes this empty net goal so special is the fact that at that moment, the Ducks had done it, and we the fans knew it. The game against our loathed rivals that had been built up and anticipated for so long was coming to an end, and Anaheim were on top in spectacular fashion. While the Stadium Series amounts to nothing more than two points for Anaheim on the year, it will be a victory we as fans will always remember, and this goal cemented it.
Hampus Lindholm’s Got Jokes
With the Ducks off on the Olympic Break, the young Swedish defenseman endeared himself to Anaheim fans even more by taking a shot at the team's king of jokes, Dustin Penner.
When asked about what his plans were for his mid-season break, Lindholm quipped that he was going to "Keep an eye on Dustin Penner" because somebody needed to.
Whether it's the silly thought of a 19 year old keeping an eye on the big guy, or the fact that it actually makes logical sense that it would work that way, the joke was arguably one of the funniest moments of the entire season.
Teemu Selanne’s Final Game
The final moment of this list is perhaps me cheating because it hasn't happened yet. But it's going to and I have no doubt in my mind that it will be one of the top moments of the season.
This Sunday, Teemu Selanne will suit up for his final regular season game in a career where calling it "illustrious" is selling it horribly short. A legendary era in Anaheim will be coming to an end as the almost-universal fan favorite will lace them up for one last time in a regular season contest at Honda Center.
Plans are out there from fans to make this a truly special game, one in which there will be a lot of emotion from the stands. Keep your eyes open, there are plans rapidly spreading Twitter for Ducks fans to give Selanne a standing ovation every shift he takes during the third period of the game. Don't be surprised if that expands to covering the entire game.
Have some tissues ready because there will be many manly and not so manly tears shed as the era that brought the Anaheim Ducks to where it is today comes to an end. The House on Katella that Selanne Built will host its master for one final night.
I'm sure I left many great moments out, and perhaps even left out your favorite. But I think it's safe to say this season was full of them, and for that we can be proud.
All polls will remain open until 12pm PDT on Sunday April 13th, 2014. Winners will be announced shortly thereafter.