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One of the best traditions in all of sports, the handshake line after every NHL postseason series – this one featuring a dejected Ducks team and the Blackhawks after Game Seven

 

Our resident Ducks fanatic, Nichole Choice, is back with her opinions and musings on what was ultimately a heartbreaking and disappointing outcome to a Duck season that was so promising, many had predicted the Stanley Cup coming to Anaheim.

Here is what Nichole had to say about all of this…

 

BY NICHOLE CHOICE

Greetings, Anaheim Ducks Nation! I hope these words find you well, in spite of the disappointing end of the 2015 season for our team. You certainly have my sympathies.

Now that we know that the Stanley Cup is not coming home to Orange County this season, let us reflect on why exactly the Anaheim Ducks came up short against Chicago, what factors led to this, and most importantly: how can the Ducks get over that kind of hump next year?

While the sad fate of this season is fresh on our minds, let’s hash it out.

As we know, “The Mighty Ducks” is the title of a hit 1992 sports comedy drama film starring Emilio Estevez as a hockey coach, and it went on to become a trilogy. In a remarkable instance of life imitating art, and in a series of live Tweets during the series that would ultimately be the culmination (or crumbling, more like) of the season for the Ducks, the star of the film, @EMILIOTHEWAY, took to cyberspace to offer poignant and surprisingly relevant advice for the Anaheim team, such as:

“WAKE UP DUCKS! PLAY LIKE YOU WANT IT!”

Precisely.

Did the Anaheim Ducks really want the Stanley Cup this year? Why did they falter? During the Western Conference Finals, it seemed like the Ducks succumbed to a lost sense of momentum.

The necessity for a Game 7 was an unfortunate one, as the Ducks really should have and were capable of finishing off the Chicago Blackhawks during Game 6. Dead fish and house guests are not the only things that start to stink after a few days.

Same thing goes for rival teams, and the Ducks allowed their rival to overstay their welcome on ice. The Blackhawks took advantage of the well-worn out welcome mat, and their patient endurance paid off. The Ducks underestimated their rival and perhaps overestimated their own greatness as well, dare I say.

It would be ridiculous to go so far as to use the word “lazy”, but “overconfidence” and “complacency” are strong possible adjectives one can consider when it comes to the Anaheim Ducks this season.

There’s evidence of this in Game 5 against the Blackhawks, when the Ducks started strong with an early 3-0 lead. The persistence of the Chicago Blackhawks was on blatant display and in full effect, however, when they forced overtime during the last two minutes of period three.

It’s also easy to conclude that it was a lucky break thanks to the skill of Matt Beleskey that the Ducks didn’t lose during that particular overtime, given the fact that overtime losses against the Blackhawks had, until then, not happened once but twice. That glimmer of hope for the Ducks dimmed during the subsequent Game 6 and decisive Game 7 with a 5-2 and a 5-3 loss, respectively.

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One of the series’ better moments: Ducks celebrating a win

 

Where Do The Ducks Go From Here?

The good news? There’s always next year.

Because every Anaheim Ducks enthusiast can actually feel the pain of losing a Game 7 – at home, to add further insult to injury – for three straight years.

How can we avoid this heartbreak next season?

What needs to happen in order to alter the destiny of the Anaheim Ducks?

The Anaheim Ducks simply need to do more. They need to not lose their focus and poise during the postseason. This is a key trait and quality found in champions. The frustrating experience of choking under pressure is also an avoidable malfunction. The hump that the Anaheim Ducks need to get over is an invisible one, because it’s all in the mind. A performance lapse during a critical moment is unacceptable. It’s certainly not the stuff champions are made of.

Both the Blackhawks and the Ducks are obviously stellar and outstanding teams in the physical and technical sense. This loss is the result of something intangible. Maybe it’s not overconfidence as earlier stated, but under confidence, in fact.

Again, as Mr. Estevez tweeted: “PLAY LIKE YOU WANT IT!” The Ducks need to believe that they have everything it takes to make it to the finish line and earn the Stanley Cup by allowing no distractions or insecurities, and finishing off every rival in a far  more time effficient manner.

So Ducks, eat your Wheaties and do whatever you have to do to fully express your greatness and finish strong next season. Overcome subconscious anxiety and focus solely on the desired result: winning.

There’s no room for mental consideration of anything else. Cast all insecurity aside.

To quote @EMILIOTHEWAY:

“COME ON DUCKS! Regroup! Bring it home! YOU CAN DO IT!!”

 

Editor’s note: Something to hopefully cheer you Ducks fans up – highlights of Game One, won by the Ducks 4-1…

 

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