After losing in the Music City in game six on Monday, the Anaheim Ducks entered Wednesday night’s game seven against the Nashville Predators with a pretty decent amount of pressure on their shoulders. And, low and behold, the Ducks were unable to close out the seventh-seeded (No. 1 Wild Card) Predators, falling 2-1. For the fourth consecutive season, Anaheim is having its season end in a game seven, and the third season in a row where the Ducks coughed up a 3-2 series lead.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 28, 2016
With the Ducks now having had their season end in a game seven in four consecutive seasons and now being losers of their last five game sevens (tied for longest consecutive game 7 losing streak in NHL history), it’s time to argue whether or not the Anaheim Ducks are the worst game seven franchise in the entire NHL?
Anaheim Ducks… not a game 7 team
— Mike Flanagan (@fLAno0) April 28, 2016
It’s hard to argue against the idea of Anaheim being the worst game seven team in the league from a stats perspective, and one would think that a franchise with a loaded offense like Anaheim’s would be able to make a deep run to a Cup Final. That hasn’t been the case in recent years, however, and it starts with the way the Anaheim Ducks operate in terms of signing and keeping players on their roster.
— Kaytlin (@LA_hockey_chick) April 28, 2016
In the last 13 NHL seasons, the Ducks have lost six game sevens (four at home), meaning that just about half of Anaheim’s seasons over the last 13 years have ended in game seven heartbreak. During that span, the Ducks have seen a good portion of their roster either get traded away (Emerson Etem, Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa), leave during free agency (Bobby Ryan, Francois Beauchemin, Kyle Palmieri, Matt Beleskey), or retire (Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu). Nevertheless, the core of the Anaheim Ducks (Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen) have all been together throughout the majority of this game seven losing streak, but that core his shifted significantly and often over the years. With the exception of Kesler, who joined the team via trade in 2014, this “core” group of players has proven that they are incapable of returning LA’s second hockey team back to the prominence of the 2006-2007 season when Ducks won the franchise’s lone Stanley Cup.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are obviously two extremely skilled players whom any franchise would love to build a team around. That, however, seems to have been the kryptonite for the Ducks over the last seven or eight years, as players seem to just come and go and there is never any time to build chemistry. It’s hard to blame the Ducks for not being able to hold onto key assets like Bobby Ryan because this franchise simply does not have the funds to dish out a series of big contracts to UFA’s. Both Perry and Getzlaf are signed to big money and for the long haul (both will have their contracts expire after the 2020-2021 season), so it is going to be a while until the Ducks will have a good amount of wiggle room with their salary cap.
When you have Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler as your top three forwards, you are going to be able to compete for a playoff spot every season simply because all three of them are so big, so strong, and so skilled in all areas of the ice. However, without, at least, a couple of young and solid players that can be signed long-term and be used to build a team around Getzlaf/Perry, the Ducks may be wasting prime years from arguably two of the four best players to ever put on an Anaheim sweater (Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne being No. 1 and No. 2). If Anaheim is unable to provide long-term offensive support and firepower around Kesler, Getzlaf, and Perry, expect to keep seeing early playoff exits and brutal game seven losses such as the ones we’ve seen throughout last four years. The Anaheim Ducks are one insanely skilled team, but one that nobody should bet their house on to win a game seven.
Information from spotrac.com was used in this report.