It was game 5. 2008-09 Playoffs. Anaheim versus a bitter rival. The President’s Trophy winning San Jose Sharks. Having won the first two games on the road in San Jose, the Ducks then split the games in Anaheim. With an opportunity to clinch the series on the road, the Ducks battled hard against the hosts. I can imagine the following conversation taking place:
Joe Thornton: "What?"
RG: "Let’s go!"
JT: "Get outta here, kid, you bother me."
RG: "Let’s go old man, come on! Drop your gloves! Gimme a fight!"
JT: "Get outta here!"
Getzlaf kept pestering Thornton all game long. Getzlaf, with a Stanley Cup ring already encased at home and who would have a captain’s "C" emblazoned onto his sweater a couple years later, kept pestering Thornton all game long. Thornton, current captain of the Sharks, and once captain of the Boston Bruins as well, had once had his own captaincy stripped for the teal and black. Getzlaf kept challenging Thornton all game long, only to be declined each time. The Sharks eventually won that game, but the Ducks would win the series in Game 6 in Anaheim.
At the drop of the puck in that series clinching game, Thornton gave in. Was it him who challenged Getzlaf this time? Perhaps to infuse some energy on his team, now the road team. That was exactly what Getzlaf was trying to do as the road team in Anaheim but his dance partner declined each time. This time, in Anaheim, I imagine this conversation:
JT: "Ok, kid. Now’s your chance. You want to go, let’s do this!"
RG: "Let’s go!"
The puck drops, and the gloves come off just as quick. These two power centers go at it. A fight 2 days in the making, and finally they square off. Thornton may have gotten the upper hand in the fight, but it was the Ducks that ultimately won the war. Getzlaf, their captain, their leader, accepted the challenge. He stood up to Jumbo Joe. And his team responded.
Now… Flash forward to 2010-11 playoffs.
Ducks are now playing the Nashville Predators. Its game 3, on the road in Nashville. Ducks are down 2 – 0 in the game, series is tied at 1. Ducks look uninspired. Flat. Nothing like the team that went 15 – 5 down the stretch. Again, it’s Getzlaf. And this time, he looks for another highly skilled center man. His nemesis in the faceoff circle. Mike Fisher. Fisher’s been hurting the Ducks all series up to this point. He skates up to him, and I imagine the following conversation:
RG: "Let’s go."
MF: "What? No."
RG: "Come on Mr. Carrie Underwood. Gimme a fight."
MF: "WTF? No!"
RG: "What, cause you’re girl’s watching? Come on. Let’s go."
MF: "You sonofa…."
Gloves come off. Average fight. Slight edge to Getzlaf. Both benches stand, and players slap their stick. Was this a good move? Some might say it wasn’t. Even one of our posted on twitter:
"WhatWouldJNDo: That was idiotic. Getzlaf needs to be on the ice for offense. It's Mike Fisher. Advantage Preds on the tradeoff."
The result was both teams’ top center men where in the box for 5 minutes. Duck’s then got a power play quickly after that, and promptly respond by scoring two quick goals in thirty seconds by none other than Teemu Selanne himself. Ducks would end up losing that battle, but they’re still fighting the war. Selanne would rip a new on in his teammates after that game. And they responded with a 6 – 3 thumping of the Predators, with 3 goals in the first 5 minutes that pretty much ripped the heart out of the Predators. The questions are creeping for them, "Oh gawd… not again."
Since that fight, the Ducks have outscored the Predators 9 – 5. They wrestled back home-ice advantage. The last game and a half, the Ducks have looked a lot more like the 15 -5 team down the stretch that got them here. With Getzlaf leading the charge. He challenged his opponents. He stood up to them. And the team has responded. Their charismatic leader, the face of the franchise, lit a fire under the team after that game, but it was the man with the "C" the spoke with his fists first. The little battles have been one in the last couple of games. Now, on to win the War.