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Getzlaf thinks depth will help Ducks overcome injuries

Captain says they can make up for losing Kesler, Lindholm, Vatanen

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

Captain Ryan Getzlaf likes where the Anaheim Ducks are with this season approaching.

Sure, the absence of center Ryan Kesler, out indefinitely after having hip surgery June 8, is problematic. And they'll start the season without core defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, who each could be out until November with a shoulder injury.

 

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But Getzlaf isn't ready to panic. He believes there is too much depth on the Ducks, who reached the Western Conference Final last season.

"I think we are where we need to be, especially at the start here," Getzlaf said leading up to training camp. "You don't win the [Stanley] Cup in September. It's a matter of building throughout the season again.

"I thought last year we did a great job in understanding what we needed to do throughout the year and put ourselves in a great position to be where we were."

They will try to build from the beginning this time despite those injuries. Kesler was third on the Ducks with 22 goals, but Anaheim will start the season with its top two goal-scorers from last season, forwards Rickard Rakell (33 goals) and Jakob Silfverberg (23). Veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who signed a one-year contract Aug. 21, can help make up for Lindholm and Vatanen being out, as will the continued maturation of Josh Manson, 25, and Brandon Montour, 23.

It might be easy to forget, but the Ducks were not good early last season. They were 4-4-2 through 10 games and 9-7-4 through 20.

But Anaheim closed the regular season with an 11-0-3 run, getting 25 of a possible 28 points to hold off the Edmonton Oilers and win the Pacific Division at 46-23-13.

Getzlaf, who played 74 games, had 31 points (five goals, 26 assists) in his first 37, and 42 points (10 goals, 32 assists) in his next 37. He finished with 73 points (15 goals, 58 assists), 15 ahead of Kesler, to lead the Ducks in scoring for the fifth straight season.

Video: Ryan Getzlaf takes the No. 23 spot

Then, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Anaheim defeated the Calgary Flames and the Oilers to reach the conference final before losing to the Nashville Predators in six games.

Getzlaf, 32, was fifth in the NHL with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 17 playoff games, the most scored by any player not on the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the Cup.

Getzlaf, among others, provided what Anaheim needed when it counted most, down the stretch and in the playoffs. He also felt he had the pulse of the Ducks in the second half, and that they matured throughout the season. That development paid off in the postseason.

The Ducks never let up in the first round, sweeping the Flames in four games. Against the Oilers, they lost the first two games of the best-of-7 series, won the next three, including two in overtime, and won 2-1 in Game 7, three days after losing 7-1 in Game 6.

"The resilience that our team showed and the way we built throughout the year, I was pretty happy with that," Getzlaf said. "I thought we didn't overreact as much to things as the year went on and that helped us in the playoffs when it came time to do things under the gun and not giving up in games and things like that. In the playoffs, it's about putting games behind you whether you win or lose and we did a better job with that."

With many players returning from last season, the base is there for the Ducks to continue to apply the lessons of their recent ups and downs. In the past five seasons, Anaheim has been eliminated from the playoffs in the first round twice (2013, 2016) and reached the conference final twice (2015).

"You have to work at it," Getzlaf said. "It's a skill to forget things and move on and react right in the right situations. I thought we built throughout the year with that. I didn't think at the beginning of the year we reacted well to certain things, whether it be goals against or penalties or whatever it was. I thought we did a lot better job as we went on and it showed in the playoffs."

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