Randy Carlyle has criticized his team this season for not establishing themselves in the dirty areas and accepting defenses that push them out of the crease and the house, basically everything I accuse you of doing in NHL 11.
Last night, Ryan Getzlaf made some dazzling plays, but he also drove to the net and had a key goal in the crease. Daniel, do you give Getzlaf credit for a veteran, captain-worthy move there, paying the price in front of the net?
No one should be rewarded for doing what he is supposed to do. However, a person should be applauded for recognizing his shortcomings and fixing the corresponding problem. The Ducks needed to toughen up and go to those tough areas to produce goals. Not necessarily to produce offense, although that helps, but to demonstrate to themselves that they can pay that price and put in that kind of effort every night. In my opinion, going to the front of the net is as important as dropping the gloves. It demonstrates that willingness to pay a physical price in order to be successful. As we all know, a captain should lead by example. Getzlaf did exactly that. He identified the behavior that needed to be altered, and he altered it. Damn, those G.E Psych courses.
Getzlaf is a young captain, but that's exactly why he should get credit for doing the right thing. There's no telling if he'll ever be the consistent superstar we want. But, if he can pay the price and let the defenders who try to clear him from the crease pull the hulk out of him, then maybe we can see the player who earned the right to be in all those NHL commercials. When a young player is learning to be a captain, every step in the right direction should be encouraged. Recognizing and solving a team problem is a big step for Getzie. Let's hope he can keep making forward progress.
You know, establishing yourself in the house is important. Forcing defenders to clear you out and account for your stick for entire shifts tires them out. It can be like the body shots of hockey offense. Of course, it's not the prettiest job, especially for a guy like Getzlaf, who seems so attracted to the playmaking opportunities on the ice, but I guess that's the primary reason he deserves credit for this.
They say that some of the best supervisors are the ones that show their employees they can still do the entry level job, and by doing so, that they still respect the entry level job. Last night, Getzlaf put down the clipboard, picked up the lunch pail and got on the drill with the other roughnecks. Here was a game where he was willing to drive it to the net, stand on the goalie's private parts and do everything that you would expect of a hockey player who doesn't have a rocket for a shot, an electron microscope for hockey vision, and a 40-piece dinner set (all saucers) for passing ability.
I think that's the attitude this team needs to have right now. Nothing excuses you from fighting to get into the dirty areas. It doesn't matter how fast you skate, how sharp you shoot or how well you pass; if you can't make things tough on the defenders inside, you're not playing Ducks hockey. To the degree that he communicated that, it was his best night wearing the C to date. If he continues to send that message going forward, then I think he may have found his particular brand of leadership.