By not accepting that the Ducks were beaten by a superior franchise positioned to win its third
If the reason wasn't the Blackhawks' talent — center
"Last year was tough, but this is even worse," Ducks forward
Anaheim's 5-3 loss Saturday night at
"They showed what kind of team they are," Ducks forward
After saying he played "terrible" with a minus-three rating in Game 6, Getzlaf was minus-one with two giveaways in Game 7 while right wing Corey Perry matched those figures with a late third-period goal that was answered less than two minutes later by the Blackhawks' dagger.
Perry declined to speak to reporters after the loss.
Getzlaf admitted of Game 6, "We weren't really mentally prepared to play that game," and lamented after Game 7, "they started stronger than us."
The question to both statements is why.
Fingers will be pointed at Coach
Rather than finding a higher level, the Ducks were witness to Toews, Kane, Keith and Co. elevating their play in the moments of truth.
The Blackhawks move on to play the
Anaheim's response to its 2-0 hole wasn't an impressive counterpunch. Instead, there was uncoordinated, uncharacteristic play that allowed odd-man rushes and a greater deficit.
"I don't know if we went in the other direction," Boudreau said, "but I do believe the Blackhawks got better."
Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville called Toews "an amazing person, amazing hockey player. The bigger the stage, the bigger the setup, he just seems to excel."
"It's the start of summer now and we're going to have to get over this and get ready for next year because I'll tell you right now, this group is not done," Kesler said. "We have unfinished business."
That mind-set was supposed to have shaped this season, though, but it was Chicago which proved more resilient by responding to last season's Game 7 overtime loss in the conference finals to the
"The team could really bear down and get back to playing the way we wanted to," said Blackhawks forward
Where was the Ducks' attention to keeping the puck down by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford in Games 6 and 7, imposing their physicality and attention to defensive detail?
Instead, the Ducks — who gave up 19 goals in the final four games — are left to take consolation in the fact they've moved from a first-round exit in 2013 to a conference semifinal loss to the Kings last season to this conference final defeat.
The Ducks will possibly be able to say they've taken the past two Stanley Cup champions to a Game 7.
"We can be proud of ourselves for what we accomplished this year," goalie
"Tough trophy to win. [We gained] more experience for everyone to see how tough it is. … Long ride, but I feel like it's over way before it's supposed to."
Certainly, Ducks General Manager Bob Murray will not take kindly to acceptance of anything short of the Cup from this cast.
Make no mistake, Murray knows his current roster is comprised of players who are a combined 7-48 in Game 7s, and he will respond accordingly.
More experienced defensemen could be pursued.
The Ducks, who have sufficient salary-cap room, will have to spend dearly to keep unrestricted free-agent forward
Murray has a history of moving boldly to replace those he believes fall short, so it'll be intriguing to see what's determined from a thorough re-examination of the postseason — particularly Games 6 and 7.
"We let the fans down and let the people around us down," said defenseman