They missed their chance last week to sweep the New Jersey Devils and match the 1988 Edmonton Oilers 16-2 run. But by finishing at 16-4 or even 16-5, the Kings can still make a case to one-up their regional rivals and claim a special spot among the champions of this century.
Over the last decade and dating as far back as 1999, only three NHL teams have garnered a championship without having to play a Game 7 in any of their four playoff rounds. Those were the 2007 Anaheim Ducks, the 2008 Detroit Red Wings and the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.
Since 2003, Anaheim, the Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning have each gone a peerless 4-1 in closeout games during their respective championship campaigns.
But the Ducks have a slight, though decisive upper hand on the others in that they went 16-5 through their playoff run, the swiftest sprint by a Cup-winning team since Detroit (16-4) in 1997.
The adversary that gave Anaheim the most trouble was the top-seeded Red Wings. The two Western titans tangled in a conference final that would end in six games.
Although there has been no sweep of a Stanley Cup Finals since 1998, the Ducks are one of only two teams in that span to have vanquished their fellow finalist in five games. The other was a 2002 Detroit team that conquered Carolina, though not before requiring a rally from a 3-2 series deficit to dethrone the defending champions from Colorado.
Anaheim did trail the Red Wings, 1-0 and 2-1, in the 2007 Western Conference finals. But they won seven of their next eight games en route to the Cup while running up a 27-18 scoring differential against Detroit and Ottawa.
That late-stage hustle began with a 5-3 Game 4 victory over the potent Red Wings, who could not outscore an Anaheim team that was missing an injured Chris Pronger for the night. It ended with a 6-2 Game 5 Cup clincher over Ottawa, which ties Boston’s 4-0 shutout of Vancouver from last season for the most lopsided clinching victory in the last two decades.
The Senators’ top troika of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza split the postseason scoring lead with 22 points apiece over 20 games.
But in their five contests with Anaheim, only Alfredsson made a substantial impact with four goals and an assist. The opposing defense confined Heatley to a single goal, Spezza to two assists and the Senators as a whole to 11 goals.
The Ducks flexed more depth throughout the playoffs with six individuals finishing in a range between five and 10 goals in 21 outings. In the finals, Andy McDonald, Travis Moen, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry all tuned the mesh multiple times.
And on their first try to shut down the Senators, half of Anaheim’s 18 skaters appeared on the score sheet as part of the aforementioned 6-2 romp in Game 5. A most fitting exclamation point on the most dominant Stanley Cup odyssey this young century has seen.