No one ever will accuse Corey Perry
or Ryan Getzlaf
of being the touchy-feely type, so there should be no expectations of spontaneous “You complete me!” outbursts from either player.
But after more than three years, it has become abundantly clear that each Anaheim Duck forward is made more complete by the presence of the other.
“Obviously, when you find someone that plays a similar style as you do and plays the same roles as you do, you’re going to click a little bit,” Getzlaf said. “Leaving us together for the amount of time they have, allowing us to develop as a pair and learn each other’s tendencies, has also helped. And we’ve become good friends off the ice and that’s only going to contribute to chemistry on the ice.”
Perry feels pretty much the same way, suggesting he has almost a telepathic relationship with his good buddy.
“Well, I’ve played with Getzlaf for three years now,” Perry says. “We know where each other are on the ice. It was nice getting back with him. Playing with ‘Getzy’ is nice. It’s getting back to where we were last year and we kind of know where each other is going to be on the ice.”
Ever since the two strapping power forwards were selected nine picks apart in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the pair has appeared to be physically joined at the hip and mentally ready to finish each other’s thoughts.
The pair – wide-eyed and unsure of themselves – played on the same line at rookie camp and then were together at their first training camp, developing the roots of the strong bond they share today.
They signed their first pro contracts on the same day, Sept. 15, 2004. They also joined forces in 2005 to lead Canada to another gold medal at the World Junior Championships.
Getzlaf and Perry made their NHL debuts on the same day, Oct. 5, 2005, in a 5-3 win against Chicago. They were demoted to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Portland at the same time and they returned triumphantly later in the season, helping Anaheim make a run to the Western Conference Final.
Last season, they were the foundation of Anaheim’s second line as the Ducks capped an unforgettable season with a Stanley Cup Final triumph against the Ottawa Senators. Getzlaf had 17 points in that 21-game run; Perry 15.
This season, they sit one-two in the team scoring race after two months (Getzlaf has 10 goals and 15 assists in 22 games and Perry 12 goals and seven assists in 24 games), despite the fact that they spent part of the first month auditioning candidates to permanently fill the third forward position left vacant by the departure of fellow young gun Dustin Penner. It appears Chris Kunitz has laid claim to that role.
In essence, the two 22-year-olds have formed one of the most effective symbiotic relationships in the hockey universe. Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle would be a fool to try to break them up – not that Carlyle hasn’t made a considerable effort to do just that in the past.
The Ducks opened the season with Getzlaf on a line with newcomer Todd Bertuzzi and rookie Bobby Ryan. Bertuzzi now is on the flank of Andy MacDonald and Ryan has been sent to the minors.
“Well, you know, I think that with the way that we've put things together, historically, we always have tried to formulate a pairing and Getzlaf and Perry became a pair with our group right from the training camp and first rookie camp three years ago in San Jose,” Carlyle said. “And we tried to wander away from that a little bit to try to share some minutes and share some offensive power-play time and what-not. And we weren't getting the necessary results. We had chances on it, but we just weren't getting the necessary results, even in the preseason games. So we decided that we were going to go back to the Getzlaf/Perry combination.”
|Now the dynamic duo is back together as the Ducks move forward from a series of player personnel losses in the off-season and eight-time-zone, five-game road trip to open the season that netted the club just three of a potential 10 points.
Now the dynamic duo is back together as the Ducks move forward from a series of player personnel losses in the off-season and a trying, eight-time-zone, five-game road trip to open the season that netted the club just three of a potential 10 points.
But the strong play of Getzlaf and Perry has made that early stumble nothing more than a memory. The club has gone 10-6-3 in its last 19 games and now sits just two points behind division-leading Dallas and just six points removed from the top spot in the conference.
Getzlaf, who was just rewarded with a long-term deal from the club, has 25 points in 22 games. Perry, meanwhile, has a team-best 12 goals and also has 19 points. Along the way, the perfect pairing has cured Carlyle of some of his need to tinker.
“The thing was, I guess you have to take the approach at times, too, that when you have to look back and say if it isn't broken, why would you try and fix it?” Carlyle said. “And maybe that was the case here. We were trying to fix it when we really didn't have to in that situation.
“But, again, our group has changed somewhat. The dynamics of our group has changed. And as a coach, it's your responsibility to try to find those quality minutes and that quality time for your offensive players. You have to give them an opportunity to have success. You've got to create line combinations. You have to create power-play units. All those things are things that you have to do. That's part of our mandate.”
Well, it appears there is no better way to foster opportunities for success in Anaheim than by leaving well enough alone, which means Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf will remain indivisible on the ice far into the future.