The Ducks are the drama queens of the modern NHL. There I said it. Why else would they lose against the AHL team of the Pacific Division - presented as the Vancouver Canucks? Perhaps, and bear with me here. Perhaps, it was all a bid to heighten the spectacle of Friday night’s game against the LA Kings. As there is simply no doubt about it...
THIS IS THE BIGLIEST, MOST HUGEMONGOUS, DUCKS VS KINGS GAME IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE!!!
The Ducks - full of the knowledge of dwindling attendance and a general apathy towards the team - an apathy based on their recent play and archaic style of hockey - have laid the foundation for a spectacle of the likes of which Ducks fans have not seen for many moons!! It may be that some fans have yet to see an event as grand as this in all of their lifetime. As the noble Ducks cling desperately to the final wildcard spot, they - the sublime Ducks - do walk the tightest of tightropes.
Nonetheless, the script for this glorious spectacle goes like this....
Merely 6 months previous, the Anaheim Ducks were considered a Stanley Cup contender. A shoe-in for the Pacific title. A likely Conference finalist, in the strongest and greatest of all the conferences, the Western Conference. This was the conventional wisdom, so said the great sages and gatekeepers of old-school hockey knowledge. To the world it made sense, as the world watched the spectacular Ducks bulldoze their way through the 2016-17 season, once again claiming supreme overlordship of the Pacific Division, a rare game 7 victory, and their dominion as a rightful Western Conference Finalists. This laid the foundation of a wonderful 2017-18, without a doubt. With a full season of deadline acquisition and 30 goal scorer, Patrick Eaves, in the fold; with the inevitable meteoric growth of Fabio’s scion and net-wizard, John Gibson; who would possibly stand in their way? Who could? Which bastion of the profane would dare attempt to resist the ultimate power of the greatest, and most beautiful, team in the cosmos?
The date is October 5th, 2017. A day of infamy. Elite pivot Derek Grant lines up at centre ice, as the first line centre of the awe-inspiring Anaheim Ducks... On what would have been an assured victory lap merely months ago, was suddenly thrust into doubt, as fans perused the injury list. What team could possibly win with its top two centre icemen, and top two defencemen out of the lineup? Surprising everyone, Patrick Eaves too, sits out of the lineup. Hope appears but a distant and dwindling memory.
Nonetheless, the Ducks are saved by the very thing that has propelled them so far in seasons past. The Pacific Division. The Arizona Coyotes - the EHCL team masquerading as an NHL team for profit, that the Ducks face - crumple and fold like a cheap suit, in the face of an almighty Corey Perry and Andrew Cogliano led onslaught. Goal. Assist. Goal. Assist. BAM. BAM. BAM. The experienced duo feed off of elite #1 centre Derek Grant’s faceoff prowess, as he dominates his pitiful competition to the tune of 88% on the dot. Like the Black Knights of Independence Day, the breathtaking Ducks do emerge, victorious, once again. What was but moments ago a feeling of doom and terror, transforms like the bud of a rose on the first day of spring into a glorious, beautiful, and romantic dream. The dream of Spartan Kings. A dream of more than glory. A dream of victory.
Those in the back cry, FORWARD! Those in the front cry, BACK! Those in the stands cry, SHOOT! As evil King Bettman and the NHL send all manner of grotesqueness to combat the opulent Ducks. Monsters from all around the globe come at the palatial Ducks. When the monsters of Slovenia and Russia don't work, they turn to the sorcerers of Sweden and Canadia. This scene repeats itself on and off for many months. Naturally, the greatest team in the history of the world, does lose the odd game along the way. Without their greatest generals, it is a task of great moment to defeat the evils heathens that abound throughout the league. Win. Loss. Win. Loss. For the most part, however, the mightiest of teams hold themselves above water, patiently awaiting the day the greatest defensive specialist, and grittiest leader on earth (Ryan Kesler), returns unto them. Within this waiting period, the angelic team mastermind Bob Murray moves to solidify a position of strength by acquiring current third line pivot (and some pucks and stuff) for the then 3rd on the team for TOI - and current #1 NJ Devils defenceman - Sami Vatanen. The added benefit of this transaction was increasing the minutes of seasoned warriors Kevin Bieksa and Francois Beauchemin. With all of this leadership on the blue line, who would then dare stand up to the combined might of Ryan Getzlaf, Derek Grant, Adam Henrique, and the mummified remains of Antoine Vermette and Ryan Kesler?
Fans didn't have to wait long to find out, as not long following the completion of that transaction, the man with all that Selke - Kesdawg - returned to the lineup. With that goliath of the game back on deck, the dazzling Ducks would go on as if he hadn't returned at all. Sure they had streaks of dominance, as one would expect of a former champion just exiting their prime, but the streaks of poor play were just a prevalent as the wins. Was it possible that this once great giant of the competition was lacking in leadership? Was the combined age of the team too young in what was initially considered a lottery pick year? Enquiring minds wished to know.
To bolster his struggling team and to ensure that his charges really worked for their playoff opportunity, the God-King Bob Murray made big moves at the deadline to acquire Captain Canadia Chris Kelly and former 20 goal scorer Jason Chimera. These seasoned veterans were acquired in a bid to convert the youth of the team to experienced leadership, and to increase its speed through the bottom 6, celestial Murray would surmise. A couple of moves that in hindsight - as there was no possible way to predict in real time - have not particularly panned out. However, concessions should be granted on this occasion, as when you have traded away three, thirty goal scorers, for the strong total return of 20 goal scoring Jakob Silfverberg, and current 8 goal scorer Nick Ritchie, small missteps are certainly understandable. Slight misstep aside, since the deadline and these acquisitions, the most majestic Ducks have really struggled to soar to new heights, close out games, and/or play a full 60 minutes of NHL quality hockey.
Despite the newfound maybe-but-hard-to-tell slightly faster than what they had fourth line, it has appeared that the Ducks are missing the arousal factor that came with having the relatively young, not-slow skating, but the highest hitting player in the league (Chris Wagner), patrolling their fourth line. A surprise to some, given coach Randy Carlyle’s towering reputation as an expert motivator, oft combined with his ability to hold everyone accountable. Despite wallowing in perceived mediocrity, the Ducks have kept themselves in the hunt for a playoff position.
All of which has led us to current day Anaheim.
The Anaheim Ducks, the greatest team in all of existence, are in a daily battle for playoff positioning. Tonight, they face their mortal enemies. The malformed evil that is the LA Kings. A team that also is on the cusp of locking up a playoff position, or of falling once more into obscurity. The stirring Ducks will hold no fear of falling at the feet of these dastardly Kings, for they will remember all too recently, how this very same unimpressive Kings team went from the bottom feeding wild card position to mount a victorious assault on Lord Stanley's Cup and sully it with their filthy fingers. Yet, victory is much preferred, that much is certain. For should the ignoble Kings win, it seems likely that they will ensure their second season hopes will eventuate for certain However, the resplendent Ducks of today are entertainers, before players. The bards of the NHL world. Tonight they will lessen their eminent selves to combat the abominable Kings.
The wicked Jake Muzzin has been confirmed out of the Kings lineup, creating a clear advantage for the heroic and mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Yet it appears they - our august Ducks - will handicap themselves for the matchup. The newest hero of the greatest team in existence. The 61st Duck. Captain America himself. Troy Terry... it appears that he will be sitting tonight. Surely this will be a wonderful learning experience for Saint Terry, as he accrues experience points and renown watching his probable replacement - Captain Canada - from the press box. But should this come to pass, as all hockey fans know, and as AC staff writer Felix is loath to admit, replacing a god-damned American hero with a Canadian, is a clear downgrade in talent.
Surely you say, Canadians invented the game! But I counter with... that's the last thing they did for it.
Nonetheless, rumours abound that the showmen of the NHL would much prefer the leadergrit of the elder statesmen than the prolific scoring and silky hands of the younger pup. From here, we as fans can only but assume that the deluxe Ducks will Houdini the virtuous Terry into the line up at the last minute, or that they intend to put on a spectacle of which has not been seen since Rhonda Rousey dominated the Octagon.
Let us not forget that this entertainment extravaganza marks the first “freeway faceoff” involving Ryan Getzlaf and Phanuefffffffffffffffff. So make no mistake, when the twice-damned Kings doth enter the holy grounds of Honda Centre to pit their demonic might against the paladin-esque virtue of the godly Ducks, much violence will ensue. How could it not with these seemingly eternal enemies in the same building? While the supreme skills of Saint Terry would surely confound and confuse the unrighteous Kings, the bench boss superior knows that sometimes darkness can only be challenged by darkness. In a war of attrition, only those accustomed to wallowing in the dirt may walk away unscathed. Thus in a bid to keep Saint Terry’s virtuous chastity and cleanliness intact, it seems most likely that the combined experience of over 100 years shalt be unleashed from the 4th line unto the base Kings.
Should one partake of a gambling nature, I would set the over/under at 5 fights... in the first period. Should you choose to place judgement upon those who would partake in the fine art of laying a wager, I would leave you only with this thought:
The Dalia Lama also has a gambling problem.
He loves Tibet.
Our sumptuous Ducks may have let the Division title slip through their fingers - for the first time in modern history, a new name will rise to the top of the Pacific standings - however with a 5-4-1 record over the past 10 games, the lordly Ducks have shown that when the standings are on the line, they will watch Big Daddy Gibson play hockey. So, tonight. 1900Hrs Pacific Time. I think that we both. You and I, my charming and ravishingly handsome/beautiful reader. We both will be tuned in to see hockey turned wrestling. To see the great illusionist John Gibson puzzle the iniquitous Kings scorers. To see the great entertainers, the Anaheim Ducks, lay down that sweet bardic inspiration all over the evil blight that stains the Pacific Division. “For a king is a king, but a bard is the heart and soul of the people; he is their life in song, and the lamp which guides their steps along the paths of destiny. A bard is the essential spirit of the clan; he is the linking ring, the golden cord which unites the manifold ages of the clan, binding all that is past with all that is yet to come.” There can be no doubt. The imposing Ducks control their own destiny, and with it, the fate of entertainment in the Orange County area. But they would give up the easy victory and future spoils, for entertainment and drama. For that, we love them. For that, we the fans, will surely pack Honda to the rafters to see the extravaganza the virtuous Ducks have set for us.
A sweet (and maybe short-lived) goodbye
I’d like to take this moment to give you all a potential goodbye. This is my last scheduled preview, or piece, before the season's end. As of this coming Wednesday, I’ll be moving to Beijing to take up a coaching position there. Due to the great firewall of China, and what I assume is going to be a grossly heavy workload, I’m unsure if I’ll be able to continue as a contributor. I’ll certainly attempt to continue, but if it's not possible, I wanted to thank those with whom I’ve conversed with over the years and in particular those who engaged with anything I’ve written this season.
I do want you to know, and from the very bottom of my heart, that you’re all wrong. About everything. That's just something you’ll have to live with, but I certainly will try to not hold it against you. Daniel in particular. If you hadn't started up this blog, we probably wouldn't be here. And if you hadn't been so damn wrong about Cogliano, I’d never had the opportunity to tell how wrong you were, and never picked myself up out of the rut I was in and jumped back into the sphere of sports and statistics. However many years later it is from those arguments, now I’m back to coach at the Olympics. So for that, I thank you. But don't think I’ve forgotten you owe me a story enthusing just how good that 20 goal scoring second line star is. Others that have engaged including but not limited to David, Thyme, Phil, Freakle, Jlam, Kevin Raich (wherever you are), kvd, Gorbachev... and any and all others I’ve missed, thanks for the laughs and the hockey chat. We may not always have agreed, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. All of that said, If I can still log on and contribute from after next week.... well, you’re all still wrong. To conclude:
Sami is the greatest, Kesler is terrible, Gibson is a sorcerer.... and the Ducks will make the Conference Finals.
Peace out Ducks fans.
Also... you can add me on PS4: FinnishFlash07