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January 17, 2019
Getzlaf Goin' Strong
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
The Anaheim Ducks are beginning to look like Stanley Cup Champions again. Heading into Sunday night's game against San Jose, the Water Fowl have gone 8-2-2 in their last 12 games, pulling within four points of Dallas for the Pacific Division lead. The turnaround just happens to coincide with Scott Niedermayer rejoining the team.
"It's a matter of us coming together at the right time right now," said Ryan Getzlaf during a recent media conference call. "We've got to just keep rolling, and we've got to keep playing. With Scotty coming back in the lineup, it creates that comfort level, I think, a little bit in the dressing room as well as on the ice. Scotty's got that winning aura around him all the time. He just brings that out in other people."
While Niedermayer has a goal and seven points in his 12 games with the Ducks, Getzlaf has been carrying the offensive load all season. The 22-year-old has elevated his game, leading Anaheim in scoring with 17 goals and 48 points. With Teemu Selanne still AWOL and Andy McDonald out of town, Getzlaf has thrived as the No. 1 scoring option, currently riding a nine-game point streak of four goals and 12 points. He also leads the club in plus-minus with a plus-20.
"It's been a fun year," said Getzlaf. "It's been an experience for us. As a group we've been growing together over the last little while with some of the younger players and stuff that we've had. This year creates a challenge. It's a matter of we lost Selanne and Penner, and quite a bit of scoring in our lineup. It was an opportunity for young guys like Perry and myself and a few other guys to step into those roles and contribute more offensively and play that number one line."
Corey Perry has definitely done his part to help the cause, leading the team with a career-high 23 goals. During last year's postseason, Getzlaf and Perry teamed with Dustin Penner on Anaheim's second line, giving the Ducks a dynamic young trio and boundless hope for the future. But even though Penner has bolted for Edmonton via restricted free agency, Getzlaf and Perry haven't missed a beat. Unfortunately, only one of them will be making the trip to Atlanta for the All-Star Game.
"I'm going to go in and enjoy it," said Getzlaf about his upcoming All-Star appearance. "That is the main thing. Obviously, the game is the game, and we'll just play hockey when we get out there. But I think it's all about the whole experience and being with the guys that are around. There are going to be a lot of guys out there that I've looked up to for a long time. It will be fun to be part of something like that."
Despite being fourth in the Western Conference in goals, Perry won't be a part of it. Serves him right for scoring all those goals. I'll be honest, I didn't think Perry had it in him. I had him pegged for about 25 for the entire season. I was misinformed.
"Corey's a hell of a player," said Getzlaf. "I've been fortunate enough to be able to play with him for the last three years. It's unfortunate that he didn't get there. But I said before it's the tip of the cap to the league as well. There's a lot of good players in our league. You can't take anything away from the guys that were selected. I would have loved to see Corey there and be able to experience it with him."
At least Getzlaf will have one teammate with him in Atlanta. Chris Pronger was named an All-Star for the fifth time, giving him four more All-Star appearances than dental visits.
"He's great," said Getzlaf of the gap-toothed veteran blueliner. "Chris is a player that loves to win and loves to compete. He's a pretty black and white kind of guy. You're going to know what you're getting right away. That's something you can learn from and take down the road."
Getzlaf and the Ducks are hoping that road leads to another Stanley Cup. Last year's playoff run matured Getzlaf as a player and put him in the national spotlight, showcasing his talents to a world-wide audience. Yeah, I know the NHL doesn't have much of an audience, but imaginations are fun. Anyway, Getzlaf realizes the team's success has had a great deal to do with him becoming an All-Star.
"That's the biggest piece to this, is that last year we had the success that we did. We played as a group. And when you do go through those things, people notice the different things that you have to go through to create that kind of a championship team. When you get that recognition, it comes from the big games and the big events and that kind of stuff. But anyone will tell you that the playoffs create that buzz around them."
It's been a whirlwind career for Getzlaf. He's gone from being a first-round draft choice to a Stanley Cup champion to an All-Star in a span of less than five years. When he takes the ice in Atlanta, it'll be another reminder of how far he's come from his days in juniors.
"You know what, back then it was a matter of, obviously, it would be nice to be a part of that stuff," said Getzlaf. "But it's weird. You kind of take it in steps when you're coming up. I never really thought I was going to get drafted, then that happened. I never thought that I would make it. And it's just stepping stones along the way, I think, and that's all part of putting together a good career. This is just another stepping stone along the way.
"I've been in the league, this is only my third year. There are many more years to come. I think that I've been blessed and fortunate enough with the success I've had in my career.˙With Selanne and some other guys last year, they had their first chance to play for the Cup and win it. They've been playing for a long time. So I feel blessed having my career here."
It's funny; I feel the same way about my career with LCS Hockey. All you really have to do is replace the words "blessed" and "fortunate" with the words "depressed" and "miserable." Good times, good times.