In the wild and wacky Western Conference last spring, just four points separated the No. 4 seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the first team left out in the cold. That No. 4 seed turned out to be the Anaheim Ducks, and they had Corey Perry to thank in a major way.
Perry scored 19 goals (and added 11 assists) in the final 16 games of the season as the Ducks had to claw to make it.
“People get hurt. People step up at different times. I guess it was a time for me to step up,” Perry said Monday. “All those goals I did score, they did mean something, and that means something for me, too. I wasn’t just going out and putting points up for the heck of it. You’re going out and you’re helping the team win and doing the little things that make the difference in a game.
“It eventually got us in the playoffs and that was huge for us.”
Perry’s ridiculous finish would generally be an unsustainable pace over the course of 82 games, but he did score a league-best 50 goals en route to winning the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP.
It seemed unreal, at the time and in retrospect.
“You kind of know how special that was,” he said. “To score 50, to put up the numbers, to go on the run at the end of last year – those things just don’t happen.”
Except they did, helping Anaheim overcome an injury to All-Star goalie Jonas Hiller and more stumbling blocks. And those accomplishments got Perry the Hart and the Maurice Richard Trophy as the top goal-scorer.
That set a high standard for Perry’s encore this season, which is off to a good start at four goals and three assists through 11 games. But he’s not trying to duplicate a “special” campaign.
“I’m not putting pressure on myself to do exactly what I did last year,” Perry said. “It’s going out and just doing the same things you’re used to doing night in and night out. Going out, working hard and if things come, then it’s going to happen.”
And if they happen in any way resembling last year, this spring could again be magic for Perry and the Ducks.