For our final poll of this season, we take a look back at some of the greatest and most fun moments of this season, one which has seen the Anaheim Ducks clinch their third consecutive playoff spot and possibly even the top spot in the West. These moments were the ones of pure magic, the ones where we as fans couldn't help but sit there and smile at how much fun this team is sometimes.
Best Moment of the Season 2014-15
Ryan Getzlaf Dying Seconds OT Winner vs. Detroit
The Ducks opened their season with a lackluster defensive effort, surrendering six goals to the high-speed Pittsburgh Penguins before quickly heading to Detroit for an early-season rivalry matchup that supersedes conference placement. It's always a big deal when the Ducks meet the Red Wings.
This matchup was like just about every other with Detroit: close, hard-fought, a ton of dangerous chances, and generally nail-biting stuff.
However, with the game appearing to be headed for overtime, the Ducks captain did what he does and took over the game, carrying the puck into the zone, stealing it back on the forecheck, and then potting a beautiful close-range backhander short-side past Jimmy Howard in what still holds up as one of the top-five goals of the season.
William Karlsson's Hot Start
One of the running headlines throughout the start of the season was the battle between young Swedes William Karlsson and Rickard Rakell for the last center spot in the Ducks lineup. While Boudreau kept his cards close to his chest, he did hint that the battle was being won by William Karlsson, and that turned out to be the case. Even though Rakell was the one to play in the opening night spanking at the hands of the Pens, Karlsson got his shot against Detroit.
And he lived up to his billing. Karlsson was flying up and down the ice all night long, causing Detroit's defense some serious problems attempting to contain him. While Karlsson didn't register a shot on the night, he came within inches of scoring his first NHL goal, ringing a shot off the post.
He would finally get that first goal the very next game out, scoring twice against the lowly Buffalo Sabres. This start vaulted him to an early fan-favorite status and earned him the nickname " Bill" and I have a feeling that name is going to stick with him wherever he goes.
Teemu Selanne's Number Retirement
The entire first half of the season felt like one massive build-up to January 11, 2015, when Teemu Selanne would finally become the first name to adorn the rafters at Honda Center. And that entire night was as magical as it built up to be.
The week leading up to the ceremony was filled with special events in honor of the sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer, including a displaying of every trophy he ever won, and a screening of the documentary detailing his life.
The ceremony was emotional and tear-inducing, as the current team and many enormous names from the team's past returned to congratulate him and stand beside him as his number went to the rafters. And the crowd was phenomenal, as fans from both Anaheim and Winnipeg filled the seats and were as loud as I can remember them ever being when their favorite son walked through to his seat.
And the game wasn't too bad either, as the Ducks fell behind 3-1 after the first period, but it turned into the Ricky Rak show as the young Swede's second and third tallies of the season powered the Ducks to a stunning comeback. The game then went to a shootout where Finnish-born Sami Vatanen, who grew up with Selanne as one of his idols, sealed the shootout in the sixth round.
Ryan Kesler's OT Winner vs. Los Angeles to Seal 4-1 Season Series
Beyond Selanne's retirement, I've always felt one of the underlying themes of this season is vindication for elimination at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings. And while regular season wins can't provide that, the season series between the two bitter Southern California rivals had a bit nastier of an edge than it did in previous years.
The Ducks, now deeper down the middle, played all five games against Los Angeles with an apparent chip on their shoulder, winning nearly every major series battle, including shots on goal and even 5-on-5 possession across all five games. As a result, they came away with a 4-1 victory in the season series, the lone loss coming in OT at Staples Center.
But perhaps none of the four wins Anaheim earned was bigger than the final one, coming on March 18th, which was sealed off by an unbelievable shot from "Mr. Rivalry" Ryan Kesler.
Well, thanks in large part to Anaheim's dominance through the season series and one massive win each by both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, the Los Angeles Kings are out of the playoffs. That means vindication will have to wait at least another year, but I'm not going to lie LA missing out might be even better.
Stefan Noesen Finally Makes NHL Debut
Stefan Noesen was originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators, but highly coveted by Ducks GM Bob Murray. So when Murray had the chance to acquire Noesen from Ottawa, he jumped at the chance. Most people don't see things that way however; that's because Noesen is the oft-forgotten piece of the trade that sent Bobby Ryan to Ottawa in exchange for Jakob Silfverberg and a first-round pick in addition to Noesen.
Since joining Anaheim, Noesen has battled through two major career-threatening injuries--a torn ACL and MCL, and a lacerated Achilles tendon--to continue to play.
He finally made his Anaheim Ducks debut on Fan Appreciation night, and while the horrifying team performance took a lot away from the special night, it's one Noesen will never forget as he logged around seven minutes of ice time in the 4-0 loss.