This is Anaheim Calling to the hockey world.
The Ducks' skid has reached a depressing 3 games. After key acquisitions at the trade deadline, Anaheim has wasted two quality opportunities to generate points and get back into the playoff race. While mistakes are being made all around, perhaps the most disappointing Duck since the Olympics has been Ryan Getzlaf. He had two assists last night, but after setting up the first two Canadiens goals, he left the ice an even player. His turnovers have steadily climbed in the past two games, and he seems even more hesitant to shoot the puck (if that's possible for Getzlaf). Arthur, Getzie has shown his ability to dominate a game with his talent, but he seems incapable of being consistent. What do the Ducks need to do to make sure he takes care of the puck and dominates?
You know, I've always defended knocks on Getzlaf's consistency, essentially since we drafted him, by saying that he needs to mix it up or else he's complacent. He needs to make every game personal, and only when you see Getzlaf The Bully, Getzlaf The Stupid Retaliation Penalty Taker will you see Getzlaf The Superstar, Getzlaf The Shooter. Only when he's physically involved in a game does he swat guys off of him and bring it to the net. I stand by that, and I honestly don't know what this iteration of the Ducks can do to address that. We're not very physical, we're moving toward a three scoring line system and we're asking Getzlaf to play some defense against top lines in the NHL, which will always have their fair share of divers and debutantes who are hesitant to mix it up.
We can't ask the rest of the team to change because, frankly, I doubt they can. Just looking at the Hits stats-- though, yes, I know hits are subjective --Getzlaf is 52 hits ahead of second place Wisniewski. Getzie tries to mix it up, but he really has no back up out there. His blind passes are actually the one thing he does that fits in with this soft squad. The team can't exactly ask him to stop being a perimeter player when that's all he sees from them on the ice.
Ideally, if we want to see Getzlaf The Superstar again, we'd put away the perimeter playmaking by keeping Beleskey on that line as a banger and getting Perry back to pure agitation-- sixty minutes of punching people in the face instead of five. That was the sort of situation that frustrated Joe Thornton into dropping the gloves in the playoffs last year. And it's that frustration from the opposition and the lack of cuteness in the play of his linemates that forces out the competitor in Getzlaf. I just don't see him coming around by any other means.
It might seem irrational, but I think maybe some time on the second line would do him some good. I just can't agree that Getzlaf needs very specific conditions in order to play at his best. I agree that he is at his best when he's in the middle of a wild and physical game, but that can't be the only time he dominates. He and Perry will be the highest paid players on this team next year. Getzlaf has pretty much been anointed the captain when Niedermayer leaves. So how can he not take full responsiblity to be prepared and active in every game?
Is it really fair to come down on Getzlaf with that expectation this year, when 90% of this team, including its captain, isn't showing up for every game?
If he's going to be a captain, then yes.
Getzlaf has all the tools to be a superstar, yet he chooses not to showcase them on a consistent basis. My problems with Getzlaf don't stem just from the blind passes in the offensive zone but from his costly defensive giveaways and his inability to ever recognize that putting the puck on the net is a good play. Yes, a blind offensive zone pass led to the first Montreal goal, but a defensive zone giveaway led to the second. Even if he needs to be crazy to be offensively dominant and give up that first goal, he shouldn't need to be that crazy in order to make a safe defensive play. When the offense isn't clicking, the defense still needs to be there. There were also a few rushes in the Montreal game where Getzlaf held onto the puck so long that the defense was able to get back before a play even developed. He wastes odd man rushes because teams have learned that if they take away the pass, Getzlaf won't shoot.
Getzie needs to step up his game if the Ducks are going to make the playoffs. He's out of time and out of excuses. Carlyle should put him on the second line with Selanne and Blake, then see if Koivu can get Ryan and Perry going. Even if it's only for half a game, it will be well worth it if Getzlaf gets the message.