In the last outing, we discussed the first half of the decade for the Anaheim Ducks. The second half of the decade is nowhere as good as the first. Time has a way of catching up with players.
The Anaheim Ducks Decade in Review: Part Two
After the heartbreaking end to the 2014-15 season, the Ducks struggled to rebound. They had a rough start to the 15-16 season, going 1-7-2 to start the year. A rough October did turn around a bit in November where the Ducks managed an 8-4-3 record. The rest of the year the Ducks stayed above .500 and won the Pacific division for the fourth year in a row.
They went into the postseason with high hopes for a deep playoff run but hit the wall. The Game Seven curse ruined the Ducks year in only the first round, as they fell victim to the Nashville Predators. This loss marked the end of head coach Bruce Boudreau‘s tenure with the organization.
Over the summer Ducks General Manager Bob Murray decided to bring in a familiar face. The return of head coach Randy Carlyle marks the beginning of the end of the powerhouse Ducks that the league had seen over the previous six years. They played well enough in the regular season to take the division for the fifth year in a row. In the playoffs, the Ducks made short work of the Calgary Fames in the first round. They moved on to face the Edmonton Oilers who were making their first appearance in the playoffs since 2006.
Led by Connor McDavid, the Oilers and the Ducks had a great series. The culmination of which was a game that was so good for the Ducks it was named ‘The Comeback on Katella’. Late in the third period, the Oilers held a 3-0 lead. Carlyle pulled John Gibson to give the Ducks six attackers and what happened next is the stuff of legend.
Captain Ryan Getzlaf ruined the shutout bid with an absolute laser from the blue line to put the Ducks on the board. A minute later, Cam Fowler scored from the high slot to make it a one-goal game. With just 15 seconds left in the game, Rickard Rakell scored to tie the game up and force overtime. The second overtime came to an end in a fashion that was truly Anaheims style. Corey Perry scored a goal with the assist from Ryan Getzlaf to cap off one of the greatest playoff comebacks in league history.
The icing on the cake was when Anaheim broke the Game Seven curse and made it into the Western Conference Final. Unfortunately, that was where the luck ran out as the Nashville Predators beat the Ducks in six games.
With the Vegas Golden Knights coming into the league, the NHL had an expansion draft that saw the Ducks make a key trade to attempt to protect some players. In the deal they made with Vegas, the Golden Knights would select Clayton Stoner from the Ducks roster and get prospect Shea Theodore as well. This enabled the Ducks to keep players like Rickard Rakell, Sami Vatanen, Brandon Montour and so forth.
The Ducks had a relatively successful season, but they failed to claim the Pacific Division. They did manage to finish second in the Division, though. In the first round of the playoffs, the Ducks were swept out by the San Jose Sharks. Those 4 losses would mark the end of an era for the Ducks.
This season, in particular, seemed to be painful for the franchise. Ryan Kesler was unavailable most of the season due to nagging hip injuries. That was just the tip of the iceberg for the injury-riddled Ducks. They had more players lost to injuries than any other team in the NHL. Players like Ryan Getzlaf, John Gibson, Rickard Rakell and Ondrej Kase left the Ducks in a terrible position all season that ended with them not making the postseason for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
In an offseason move that none of the fans thought would ever happen, Bob Murray made the choice to buy out Corey Perry’s contract, splitting up his 14-year career next to Ryan Getzlaf.
This season doesn’t look any better for the Ducks. As of the time of this article being written, they haven’t managed to put back-to-back wins together since the end of October. Fans expected the slow season, as the Ducks have brought in many young players. But they have some time before they blossom into a competitive franchise again.