Sometimes, you have to taste failure before you know what it takes to succeed.
The Anaheim Ducks are walking proof of that.
A year ago, the Ducks set a franchise record for most wins (54) and points (116) in the regular season — both of which led the Western Conference — and entered the postseason as one of the favorites.
But when they advanced to the second round of playoffs and took a 3-2 series lead on their arch-rival Los Angeles Kings, the Ducks failed to shut the door twice, leading to a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
Oddly enough, the Ducks rolling through their opponents during the season may not have been the best thing for a team trying to figure out how to win the right way. Their second consecutive early exit opened their eyes more than anything.
“I’ve always believed you learn a lot from losing, almost more than you do winning,” Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said after Friday's practice. “If you win all the time, you don’t really understand what exactly you’re doing. You just do it.
"When you have those times when you go to Game 7 and you see the difference between what they did last year and what we did in that game, you learn a lot about yourselves and what you need to do, how minor the changes are that make the big difference.”
Because of it, the Ducks are two games away from their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2007.
It's the little things that go a long way, and it was evident when they responded to adversity yet again by stealing Game 3 in Chicago on Thursday night after the Blackhawks did the same thing in Anaheim's building two days earlier.
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“It’s more of a mindset that you figure out that a little play matters, or that little chip matters,” Getzlaf said. “Taking the hit to make a play. Those little things like getting the puck deep so you can make a line change.
"Those things are very minor when you look at them individually, but on the scale of a game, when you’re talking about not making mistakes in Game 7, those are part of them.”