The Anaheim Ducks have been a force to be reckoned with this season, winning their third consecutive Pacific Division title, and putting themselves in an excellent place to start the postseason. Along the way, they've had their fair share of bumps and trials, but these five matchups in particular were the Ducks at their most dominant. These games are the true beatdowns; the ones in which the team on the other side of the ice had absolutely zero chance. These are the games where we all sat there after the final horn sounded and said to ourselves "Wow this team is good." Whether it was the dominance in possession or an exploitation of a massive gap in overall team skill, these games were flat out the best the Ducks could be this season.
Here are the nominees:
Best Game of the Season for 2014-15.
Oct. 20th, 2014 Anaheim Ducks 3, St. Louis Blues 0
The Ducks faced a stiff test at the outset of the young season: a matchup with a young and hungry Blues team that at the outset of the season was an early pick to win both the Western Conference and possibly its first Stanley Cup. The Ducks, however, were just getting their mojo going at Honda Center, and had won four straight in the confines of their own barn.
The Ducks would dominate that game from the drop of the puck. The only time they would ever hand the momentum back to the visitors was during the final period in a long stretch that I like to call the "score effects" song and dance. Overall on the night, Anaheim would get outshot by two, but it wouldn't matter. This would go down as Frederik Andersen's first career NHL shutout, and boy was it a big one for the Ducks, who passed one of their first big tests of the young season with flying colors.
Jan. 27th, 2015 - Anaheim Ducks 4, Vancouver Canucks 0
The Ducks were just returning from the All-Star break and faced their first game back on the road against the second-in-the-Pacific Vancouver Canucks. And there was no such thing as any rust or even minor glitches in Anaheim's game.
The Ducks cruised out to a lead in the first period, and then never trailed for the entire contest.
But on top of that, Anaheim also played one of its best contests defensively, limiting Vancouver to only 17 shots on goal, and making Frederik Andersen's third career shutout probably his easiest one to date.
Feb. 5th, 2015 - Anaheim Ducks 5, Nashville Predators 2
This one is a tale of two games. Through the first two periods, Anaheim was spectacular both offensively in terms of getting some extremely timely production from its forwards, and defensively by limiting the red-hot NHL-leading Predators to a reasonable number of scoring chances. It really was a master-class in how to shut down a dangerous, speedy offense.
Then the third period rolled around and Anaheim decided to try and turtle. And they surrendered a disgusting 24 shots on goal doing so. No not in the entire game, in just the third period. Score effects. But despite all this, Anaheim still kept Nashville at bay, only allowing two goals to sneak through Frederik Andersen, and then sealing the deal with an empty netter of their own.
It was a win that vaulted the Ducks over the Predators into the top spot in the NHL, and proved to be a big statement win for Anaheim, proving that they could in fact hang with the best teams in the league, and even win key big games on the road.
Mar. 3rd, 2015 - Anaheim Ducks 4, Arizona Coyotes 1
How often do you get a game where you see a goal that legitimately has a chance of winding up on SportsCenter's nightly "Top 10?" When you consider their open obsession with slam dunks and Lebron James... not too often. So then how often do you see a game that has two such goals?
The Ducks pulled the feat off on March 3rd, when a game away to the newly-decimated Arizona Coyotes proved to be exactly the catalyst the new players needed for their first game in the Anaheim lineup. Newcomers Simon Despres and Tomas Fleischmann both notched their first points in a Ducks sweater, and the Anaheim Ducks ran the Coyotes show from start to finish. And of course Andrew Cogliano scored... twice.
But the biggest highlights of the night easily went to Ryan Kesler's shorthanded goal falling down while being draped by two Coyotes defenders, and Jakob Silfverberg's goal catching his own rebound out of midair, placing it down on his stick, and smacking it behind Mike Smith. I'm still genuinely torn as to which one was better.
Mar. 18th, 2015 - Anaheim Ducks 3, Los Angeles Kings 2 (OT)
It might seem kind of strange to have a game that needed overtime to solve it be placed on this shortlist of best team performances of the season, but this is one where the score was a bit deceiving.
After years of LA dominating the possession and in many cases the season series vs. the Los Angeles Kings, the Anaheim Ducks finally pushed back this year, winning four of five from their crosstown rivals for the second consecutive season, and for the first time in five years outshooting them as well.
This game makes the shortlist for Anaheim's amazing work outplaying the Kings at 5-on-5 for the vast majority of the game. Despite LA going up early, Anaheim dominated in terms of possession and shot attempts until midway through the third period, when they scored to go up 2-1. Then the familiar turtle-and-defend thing took over again (it didn't work) but nonetheless Ryan Kesler came in with a snipe-show for a game winner. It was one hell of a hockey game, and one hell of a good performance from the Ducks against a team that has consistently been one of the toughest teams to play against in the entire NHL.