It's hard to isolate any part of Teemu Selanne's career and classify it as the greatest. Honestly, that's the great contradiction of the 2007 playoffs when it comes to Teemu Selanne. He wasn't what you'd call amazing. He was a little above his playoff career average at .71 points p/g, his career average being .68 points p/g. The playoffs are an interesting phenomenon. They have a habit of turning the greatest players into goats, and I'm not talking the acronym. After rough post-seasons in San Jose-including an epic miss on a wide open net that Sharks fans refuse to let go-and a tragic showing in Colorado, Selanne had been saddled as a bit of a playoff underperformer. Perhaps it was a fair description considering he was scoring at one third of his regular season rate in the playoffs to that point in his career.
In the 2007 playoffs, Selanne wasn't necessarily a consistent force in the postseason, especially considering he scored 48 goals and 94 points that regular season, but his work was undeniably impactful. He was tied for second in points on the team, with 15, but six of those came in three games against the Red Wings. That's 40% of his playoff points in three of 21 games. Mix in three points in two games against Vancouver and you can see what a streaky force the Finnish Flash was in the Stanley Cup run. But that's the thing, he was a FORCE. His points were important and often key plays. It all culminated in Selanne scoring what was arguably the most important goal in Ducks history. Before we get to that wonderful moment, I'll go through each series to emphasize Selanne's accomplishments. There will b ehighlights where I could find video.
Minnesota, Ducks win series 4-1:
Remember when I said Selanne scored important goals for the Ducks in the postseason. He scored a very important goal in the first game of the playoffs. The Ducks were down 1-0, exactly where the Lemaire-led Wild liked to keep their opponents. There were few things as frustrating as watching Minnesota trap their way to win after win. In swoops the Finnish Flash, Francois Beauchemin lofted a puck from inside the Anaheim zone up and over the Minnesota defense, springing Selanne for a breakaway. Selanne went 5-hole on Niklas Backstrom and tied the game. Anaheim needed that goal and ended up winning in the third period. It was an important goal.
Selanne had a secondary assist on a power play goal that gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead in Game 2, and was never heard from again in the series. Still, he was an important figure in the first two games of the opening series.
Vancouver, Ducks win series 4-1:
First, can I be honest? The best play of this series is Scott Niedermayer's overtime winner. Luongo is chirping at a ref from the crease and Scotty's all, "Well, if you're gonna let me just fling this on net...". Here's a link to a highlight package from the game if you want to relive that joy.
As for Selanne, he scored the game winning goal in a 5-1 thumping of the Canucks. It was pretty sick too; he pulled the puck around a defender to his backhand and whipped it passed Lu to put the Ducks up 2-1 late in the first. He then assisted on Andy McDonald's second goal of the period with a beautiful pass on a 2-on1.
Selanne assited on the only Anaheim goal in a Game 2 loss. Then he made a special appearance in the third period of Game 4. With a little less than six minutes left, Selanne tied the game. It was his last, and fourth point of the series. Four points in 3-of-5 games was good, but not necessarily series dominance - especially considering his line mate, Andy McDonald, had a hat trick in Game 1. It would take a visit with an old rival to make that happen.
Detroit, Ducks win series 4-2:
I hate the Red Wings. If you need to understand my hate, watch this. They bounced the Ducks twice, and 2003 wasn't nearly enough payback. Selanne was kept off the scoresheet for the first three games and the Ducks found themselves facing a 2-1 series deficit. Then Selanne showed up for Game 4 in a big way. He carried the puck in and slipped it to Ryan Getzlaf who tried to feed Dustin Penner at the net, but the puck deflected to Ric Jackman (damn...who remembers this guy?) who flung one passed Dominik Hasek. He also had the primary assist on Getzlaf's early third period goal. If you're keeping track, Selanne had points on goals 2, 3, and 4 of a 5-3 win.
That phenomenal performance was followed by what is hands down Teemu's greatest moment as a Duck. Perhaps lost in the shuffle of the overtime winner was all the work Selanne put in for the game tying goal. He chased down a loose puck, helped maintain the cycle, then found a Niedermayer for the game tying goal in the last minute of regulation. After 12 minutes of overtime hockey, this happened...
The funny thing about that goal is that every Selanne fan knew what was going to happen; we just knew. As soon as he got that puck, with the space he had, we knew he was going to go to the backhand and roof that puck. That was an important Game 5 that put Anaheim in control of the series. Selanne was the primary offensive force that made it happen. He practically dragged the Ducks out of a 2-1 deficit all by himself. He would add a power play assist on the Ducks third goal of a 4-3 Game 6 win to cap the series, giving him six points in the final three games of the Detroit series.
Ottawa, Ducks win series 4-1:
In Game 1, Selanne set up McDonald to bring the Ducks even after an early Ottawa goal. He had an assist in the only loss of the series, but he also set up Penner's game winning goal in Game 4, which gave the Ducks a strangle hold on the series. Three assists was still good work for the Finnish Flash in his only Stanley Cup Final appearance, even if he's always thought of as more of a goal scorer.
I suppose that's my take away from the playoffs. Selanne did disappear for stretches, sometimes three games at a time, but the impact of his work that post season cannot be disputed. He wasn't a Conn Smythe candidate, as we expect of most superstars, but he was there when the Ducks needed him to make a difference.
I know this post sometimes reads like a recap, but I wanted to make sure I used phrases like, game winning, and game tying so that you could go back and see how important Selanne's contributions were to that championship. Selanne was a key piece in bringing Anaheim its one Stanley Cup Championship. We couldn't have done it without you Finnish Flash. On Sunday, we will make sure that Ducks fans for generations upon generations will look to the rafters and asked to be told your story.