January 22, 2022

Whicker: With milestones piling up, Ryan Getzlaf keeps rocking for Ducks

View Original Notice ? Whicker: With milestones piling up, Ryan Getzlaf keeps rocking for Ducks

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ANAHEIM — This episode of “This Is Your Life” continues for Ryan Getzlaf.

The Ducks honored Getzlaf for his 1,000th point Sunday and have also honored him for his 1,000th game.

Trevor Zegras, 20, says he knows Getzlaf “hates” all the ribbon-cutting and commemoration, but “there’s going to be a lot more coming.”

Did anybody foresee this, just a few months ago, when the Ducks were becoming the Washington Generals in their own building, and when Getzlaf’s contract was ticking to a stop?

Instead, it says here that Getzlaf, 36, had 12 assists and 17 points in that purgatory season. He came to Honda Center Sunday with 18 and 19 this season, in 27 fewer games.

It’s often said that Getzlaf has borrowed some sonic youth from linemate Troy Terry and from Zegras and Jamie Drysdale. After all, he and Corey Perry and Dustin Penner performed that service for the 2007 Stanley Cup champs when they formed the PPG Line. Back then, Teemu Selanne would call him a “good puppy.”

But Getzlaf made his own changes, once it was clear he would be entering his 17th Ducks’ season. The main priority was to make it distinguishable from his 16th.

“The last couple of years have been a little weird,” Getzlaf said Sunday morning. “I didn’t always know how they were going to use me, whether they were going to shift all the way to the kids and all that.

“I was on the second power-play unit for a while. So I had to figure out how to adapt to what we were doing and stay on the first unit.”

This coincided with the arrival of assistant coaches Geoff Ward and Newell Brown, who brought the paddles and defibrillators to the Ducks’ power play. Getzlaf recognized that Zegras could play on the half-wall and that he could then move to the other side of the power play and get himself into a ready position to shoot.

That bumped up against his comfort level. Getzlaf, of course, has always been a pass-first, pass-second center.

“I worked on it going into training camp, took a lot of one-timers, took a lot of shots,” he said. “I changed my stick and went to a whippier shaft. I’m never going to be fully comfortable doing that, but it takes me back to when I was younger, and when Teemu and Andy Mac (McDonald)  were playing on the half-wall. But it’s tough to take on a new mindset, let me tell you.”

Among Ducks, Getzlaf suddenly is second only to Adam Henrique in shots on goal (53-56), even though he has scored but once. Just three NHL players have more assists, and he added another Sunday, with Hampus Lindholm converting his shot from the point..

The evolution of the power play from a Quaalude to an energy drink is probably the Ducks’ most drastic improvement, out of many.

“We work on it every day,” coach Dallas Eakins said. “And every time we work on it or have a power play meeting, there’s a purpose behind it.”

“We’re getting more chances, that’s for sure,” Getzlaf said. “They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s interesting how hearing the same things from a new voice can make a difference.”

The Ducks rank No. 3 in power play percentage, and are No. 11 in power play time, as opposed to No. 30 in a 31-team league last season. That’s a testimony to their quicker pace, which elicits more penalties.

Another tonic has been Terry’s breakout, alongside Getzlaf. Terry’s 13 goals are tied for seventh in the NHL.

“He’s always had a tendency to overdo things, to grab the stick a little tight, and sometimes he thinks he has to beat a guy twice,” Getzlaf said. “He’s doing a much better job of just using his speed and going. And he’s playing much better off the puck.”

Zegras and Drysdale bring that ignorant bliss that belongs exclusively to NHL newcomers, who haven’t endured the slings and arrows. Getzlaf remembers how that works.

“We tell them that the NHL is a grind” Getzlaf said. “You might have success for a five or ten game segment, but it’s a long season. You don’t have those four or five day breaks you had in college hockey. You have to make it last all season. But that’s kind of how the game is going. These kids know how to play. They come up and they have no fear.”

Their 5-1 loss to Toronto on Sunday didn’t show it, but generally the Ducks have been more entertaining than a basket of puppies, including the old one in the middle, and his new tricks.

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