In Getzlaf’s Absence…

Last Wednesday, the Anaheim Ducks captain, Ryan Getzlaf, suffered a lower-body injury early in the third period in the second of three straight games against the Dallas Stars.  While he managed to get back on the ice later in the period, and even score a goal, the captain, and first line center, missed Friday evening’s contest. Listed as day-to-day, Ducks staff, media and fans were all wondering if Getzlaf was going to be able to play in Sunday night’s rivalry “Freeway Faceoff” game against the Los Angeles Kings.

“If he can play, he’s playing. That’s it. We need him!” Coach Bruce Boudreau exclaimed.

While it looked unlikely that he would be back on the ice, it wasn’t officially announced that Getzlaf would be scratched until a few minutes to game time, which left everyone to wonder, who would be centering Boudreau’s top line?

On Friday’s game against the Stars, Boudreau primarily looked to Saku Koivu, normally the second line center, to fill in between Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry. However, this could be viewed as a failed experiment as not only did it shake up all of the lines, switching around the centers, but also nobody on the Friday’s top line even had a point, let alone a goal.  Perry, especially, seemed to be missing Getzlaf, as he was looking around to see where the puck would be coming from and when he did have the puck, had trouble finding the net.

Getzlaf and Perry have been together on the Ducks since the draft. The two were both selected by the Ducks (then the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) in the first round of the 2003 draft, at 19th and 28th respectively. By the ’06-’07 season, they had both made it up to the NHL, played in all 82 regular season games, were on a line together, and helped the Ducks win their first Stanley Cup Championship. And, for the most part, the two have been playing the same line ever since.  Did I mention that the two were born only six days apart?

The Ducks’ typical first line (Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan) is widely viewed as an offensive threat, combining for a total of 35 of the Ducks 109 goals so far this season, 13 of those belonging to Getzlaf.  Getzlaf also leads the team in assists, with 30 in his 37 games played.

“When you don’t have your top guy out there, guys are going to pick up and there’s going to be holes and roles to fill,” Perry commented.

For Sunday’s game, Boudreau decided to switch things up yet again, this time selecting Andrew Cogliano to center his top line. Entering into Sunday’s game, Cogliano had tallied seven goals and five assists for a total of 12 points in his last 19 games.

It took Cogliano a little time to find his groove in his groove with his new linemates, but late in the second period, he connect on a cross-ice pass to Perry, who put it in the net.

Perry also came up big for the Ducks later in the game. He was selected to be the third round shooter in the shootout and sealed a 4-3 victory for his team.

Boudreau stated, “I think everybody stepped up a little bit today and knew that we didn’t play a very good game against Dallas the other night and wanted to prove that we were capable of playing without Ryan Getzlaf. And for tonight, anyway, it worked.”

The Ducks will follow up their victory by hosting the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night.

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