CURRENT SEASON RECORD:
35-8-5, 75 points
First Place in NHL’s Pacific Division and Current Owner of the NHL’s Best Record
Winners of seven straight games and 17 out of their last 18
Have earned points in 21 straight games
And to think that it all started with a Disney movie trilogy about a pee-wee hockey team that was essentially a ripoff of the baseball classic The Bad News Bears.
I’m sure that people thought that these Ducks from Orange County were going to be good, but I don’t think folks outside of the team’s fan base though that they were going to be this good and this dominant at this point of their 20th NHL season.
The team with the next highest point total is the Chicago Blackhawks with 70, reflecting their 30-8-10 record in the Central Division.
And wouldn’t you know it, the Ducks will have a showdown with the defending Stanley Cup champions this coming Friday in Chicago in what many are positive will be a preview of the Conference finals.
Personally, the way things are going now I think that matchup will be a preview of the real Stanley Cup Finals, as assuming the Ducks and Blackhawks make the conference finals the winner of that series will be probable favorites for the Cup.
But that’s all speculation and putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, as so much can happen between now and the playoffs in April.
I mean, if the Los Angeles Kings can win the Stanley Cup in 2012 as an eighth seed, scoring upsets over everyone they played, then I wouldn’t put it past some other low seed to rain on the favorites’ parade, whether to be the Ducks, the Blackhawks, or anyone else.
That, however, doesn’t change the fact that these Ducks have had a dream campaign to this point, reminiscent of other champion clubs that made things pointless like the 1996 Chicago Bulls (70-13 during the regular season), or the 1984 Detroit Tigers (104-58), or the NFL’s last undefeated team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins (17-0)
Or a team that many consider the greatest in baseball history, the 1927 New York Yankees, who won a then-record 110 games and made the American League pennant race a joke, with Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs leading the way.
Not that I’m comparing Anaheim to those legendary squads, not yet; they still have a long ways to go and need to prove themselves in an arduous two-month playoff run before they can be mentioned among those iconic teams.
Of course all of the Ducks deserve much credit for the team’s dominance, but three players have stood out and – in all honesty – are the reason why this black and orange trim-clad franchise have made a mincemeat of their division foes as they are 13 points ahead of the second-place San Jose Sharks as of this writing…
Jonas Hiller has been strong in goal with his 23-4-4 record, his .914 saves percentage, and his 2.34 goals against average between the pipes, but the eye-opening stud Ducks have been these two guys:
Right Wing Corey Perry and captain/Center Ryan Getzlaf are the team’s statistics leaders in goals, assists and points, Getzlaf’s 53 points and 30 assists leading the Ducks while Perry tops the team with his 25 goals.
In an illustration of the two Ducks’ leadership, Getzlaf’s 23 goals are second to Perry while the right wing’s 49 points and 24 assists are second to Getzlaf’s totals.
Not to mention the seven Ducks who will be going to Sochi, Russia for the upcoming Winter Olympics as along with Perry and Getzlaf, who will be teammates on the Canadian squad, and Hiller, who will the goalie for Switzerland, these other four Ducks will be going for the gold starting February 6:
* Cam Fowler, USA
* Teemu Selanne, Finland
* Sami Vatanen, Finland
* Jakob Silfverberg, Sweden
Quite impressive indeed, and merely shows how great this team has been all season to date.
But before Duck fans start making plans for the championship parade down Main Street in Disneyland or where ever the the title parades are in Anaheim, they need to keep this in mind:
As great as this team has been, they haven’t accomplished anything yet, except for a possible President’s Cup trophy given to the team with the NHL’s best regular season record.
And even that may not come to fruition if the Ducks start slumping.
SO much can happen between now and mid-June, when Lord Stanley’s Cup is hoisted among a bunch of happy and heavily bearded players.
Those players could be the Ducks, but they could also be the Blackhawks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, or even their I-5 rival Kings, who they will face in a historic Stadium Series contest at Dodger Stadium on January 25.
What I’m really trying to say is…
Don’t get complacent, Ducks. Stay humble and hungry.
Which I’m sure coach Bruce Boudreau’s team will do.