It's said that experience is the greatest teacher, and while the lessons of last season rung true in a first round series which saw the Ducks seal things up at their first opportunity, once again a slow start in a home seventh game proved pivotal in their ousting. Anaheim spent the majority of the first period reacting to Los Angeles, as the Kings drove action to dictate the play style from the get-go and earned their ultimate spoils. While the Ducks did mount an attempt at a rally later in the game, by that point the result was all but assured. Thus are the rankings for the final Ducks game of the 2013-2014 season:
-6 Slow Start (last rating: NR): From the opening shift of the game it was clear LA had their ears pinned back and were in attack mode, leaving the Ducks trying to play catch-up from their back foot. Dustin Brown getting past Ben Lovejoy up the near wing was the perfect crystallization of this, drawing the penalty which lead to Justin Williams' game opening goal. To that point the Kings had seven of the game's first ten unblocked shot attempts on net, and they would ultimately outshoot the Ducks 16-6 in the period. It's hard enough to battle back from an empty opening period in the regular season, and near impossible to do so against a championship-caliber veteran opponent in a postseason elimination game.
-5 Saku Koivu (last rating: NR): His getting beat along the wall unable to clear on the penalty kill lead to the the first goal of the game, and the Kings were off and running from there. Then with the hill already daunting at 3-0 in the waning moments of the first period his interference penalty served a suitable cap to a poor opening frame. As has been the case for much of the later part of the season, his Corsi numbers were the worst on the squad amongst the centers. The Kings got 26.1% more of the shot attempts when he was on the ice, and though he won 62% of his faceoffs, the fact that he saw only 6:37 ice time for the game shows Boudreau essentially pulled him from the game after the first.
-4 Defensive Coverage (last rating: NR): Contrast the ways in which Anaheim and Los Angeles defended the box in front of the net; Los Angeles regularly had two defensemen almost on top of the crease getting in front of shots and putting their sticks in passing lanes, getting physical with any Duck who dared fight for that real estate. Meanwhile the Ducks were utterly unable to keep crashing Kings from front of the net, and as was the case on Mike Richards' goal in the first allowed him to slip though and get multiple chances before putting the puck home. Also on the Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar goals defensemen were either out of position or unable to recover, allowing odd man chances that LA was lethal in their conversion.
-3 The Twins (last rating: -4): In the biggest game of the season teams need their biggest players to step to the forefront, and unfortunately for the Ducks Corey Perry was snake bit and Ryan Getzlaf silent at the start of the game. That the duo were on the ice for all three of the Kings even strength goals through the first 40 minutes is a testament to the Kings defense as well as their fearlessness in going at Anaheim's top line players. Perry was stopped on a penalty shot by Jonathan Quick in addition to nullifying an early second period power play with a penalty of his own, and Getzlaf didn't register a shot until the deficit was four. Though Perry scored a goal and Getzlaf had a strong chance the following shift in the third period, it was simply too little, too late.
-2 Cam Fowler (last rating: NR): While the defense in general has already been pointed out, Fowler in particular is singled out for simply having the largest sample size to point to. Leading the team with 25:42 of ice time, he finished the game a -2, and perhaps most egregiously was on the ice for 15.9% more shot attempts against which was also most amongst the defense corps. It was he and Francois Beauchemin who were split by Richards leading to the third Kings goal.
-1 Kyle Palmieri (last rating: +1): Despite scoring the Ducks first goal of the game in the late stages of the second period, his third period elbowing penalty against Drew Doughty was an incredibly ill-timed bit of uncontrolled emotion that ground the little bit of momentum Anaheim had built from the Perry goal and Getzlaf chance to a standstill. Additionally, amongst forwards he was second worst in terms of shot creation, with the Kings getting 10.3% more of the shot attempts with him on the ice.
Even: John Gibson (last rating: Even): It's hard to pin this loss on the 20-year old rookie, as he was put in an untenable spot facing a roaring Kings attack that was able to get to the net front seemingly at will. Though the numbers look particularly ugly (77.8 SV%) it's hard to fault him for the majority of goals he conceded. Quite a tough spot to be in for one's seventh ever NHL appearance; it was a gamble by Boudreau to cast his lot in the crease with Gibson, but unfortunately the magic ran out in the face of a silver and black barrage at the beginning of game seven.
+1 Jakob Silfverberg (last rating: NR): After serving as a checking line player for much of the postseason with Koivu and Andrew Cogliano, Silfverberg was one of the few depth players that showed flashes of danger during the game. By the end of the evening he was skating with the Twins, helping drive play as the Ducks attempted 20.2% more shots at the net with him on the ice which was a team high.
+2 Future Outlook (last rating: NR): One must remember that this is only the second ever playoff run, much less game seven, for a good portion of this team. Looking at the advancing rivals for context, one need remember that in the first two playoff runs with Kopitar, Doughty, and Quick as centerpieces ended in the first round at the hands of the Canucks and the Sharks. Whether or not Anaheim will attempt to replicate the "put the team over the top via trade for a star" strategy or elect to allow the squad to evolve with the influx of touted talent from the farm remains to be seen. It's been oft stated though, the window of opportunity for this Ducks team to compete for Stanley Cup titles is only beginning to open.
+8 Teemu Selanne (last rating: NR): As ugly as the final score was for the home team, there's a certain irony that the combined goal total for Selanne's final NHL game was eight. While his statistical impact on the game was minimal (three shots and a -1 in 14:02), the reaction from the crowd, the NBCSN broadcast crew, as well as both squads at the end of the game tells it all. The next time the number eight is seen in Honda Center it will be as it is raised to the rafters. But for now, it's a final goodbye to the greatest Duck of all time.