As part of the AnaheimDucks.com annual Player Reviews, we will be featuring a different Ducks player throughout the coming weeks, in numerical uniform number order. Each review will include key stats, a highlight from last season and an outlook for 2016-17
By Kyle Shohara
Ryan Getzlaf once again staked his claim as one of the top players in the National Hockey League, something Ducks fans have grown accustomed to from their captain. It was the 11th NHL season for the 31-year-old center, who finished among the league’s top leaders in several statistical categories when the 2015-16 campaign came to a close.
Despite missing four games from Oct. 26-Nov. 4 following an appendectomy, Getzlaf still led Anaheim in scoring (63 points), assists (50) and plus/minus (+14), ranked second in power-play goals (6) and power-play points (22), and third in game-winning goals (5). And among league leaders, he ranked tied for seventh in the NHL in assists and eighth overall in assists per game (0.65). It is par for the course for the 6-4, 221-pound Regina, Saskatchewan native, who reached the 50-assist plateau for the sixth time, tops among franchise leaders and tied for fourth among active NHL players.
After early-season struggles, the Ducks went on a well-documented second-half surge that spiked in February when the club went 12-1-1 during that month. At the forefront was Getzlaf, who posted 20 points (6g/14a) with a +13 rating, which earned him the NHL's First Star of the Month for February.
Within that month, Getzlaf established several milestones. He extended his own franchise record with his eighth career overtime goal to lead Anaheim to its 800th franchise victory, a 3-2 win on Feb. 13 against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. He also improved upon his own club record with multiple points in six consecutive road games from Jan. 26-Feb. 13 (3g/9a), the longest in the NHL since San Jose center Joe Thornton did so in March 2007. Not to be overlooked, Getzlaf earned his 500th career NHL assist in his 755th NHL game on Feb. 4 against the LA Kings at Staples Center. Only three active players recorded their first 500 NHL assists faster: Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (554), Florida’s Jaromir Jagr (642) and Thornton (730).
Getzlaf raised his game when the playoffs came around - this time a First Round series against the Nashville Predators that went the distance. He finished the seven-game series with five points (2g/3a) and a +4 rating, and co-led in scoring (with Jakob Silfverberg) while pacing the team in shots on goal (22).
Getzlaf’s overtime goal on that cold, blustery winter night in Chicago serves as his most notable highlight of the season. The game-winner gave the Ducks their first win in three attempts against the Blackhawks last season, all of which were decided in overtime. Within the game itself, the Ducks erased a 1-0 deficit in the third period with back-to-back goals before giving up the tying tally at the 12:01 mark of the final frame.
The Ducks caught a break just 22 seconds into overtime when Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane's breakaway attempt on Frederik Andersen went wide of the left post. After the Blackhawks were called for too many men on the ice at 1:36 of OT, Anaheim's power play came through on a 4-on-3 man advantage. Getzlaf, stationed to the left of goaltender Corey Crawford, corralled Cam Fowler's one-timer from the right point and shoveled it past Crawford to give Anaheim a satisfying 3-2 victory in hostile territory.
After another postseason letdown, Getzlaf will have to answer the bell during the upcoming season. Will he be able to finally lead his team to its second Stanley Cup championship in franchise history? Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray had some harsh comments for the team’s leadership group in his season-ending interview at Honda Center shortly after the club lost Game 7 on home ice.
“It’s the way we go out,” Murray said. “It’s the way it happens. Let’s face it … I’d like to know where the heck they were in Games 1 and 2. Where were they? They showed up in Game 7, but where was that passion? That controlled emotion? Where the heck was that? They’re going to have to be held accountable, too.”
As the captain of this team, Getzlaf knows a lot of that weight falls on his shoulders. “I take a lot of responsibility for things that go on around here,” he said. “Part of my job is making sure I'm performing at my level and trying to get the group to perform the best they can. I look in the mirror. I look at the group and how I can improve and how they can improve.
“We've put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and take a lot of pride representing this organization. [Murray’s] not the only one upset.”