Trying seasons for captains Getzlaf, Staal

by Curtis Zupke /
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ryan Getzlaf and Eric Staal probably didn't envision their paths following this kind of trajectory.

Two years after both helped Team Canada win gold in the Winter Olympics, their teams are struggling and both captains have had trying seasons.

Both are desperately trying to help their teams cling to dim postseason hopes, and they stand in each other's way when the Anaheim Ducks host the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

"Both teams have been through a lot this year," Staal said. "(We've had) tough starts and obviously going through a coaching change. Some good players on both teams that probably didn't have the start they wanted, but they're feeling good, are starting to feel some confidence. It's going to be a good game. We obviously know they've been playing very well lately."

Staal has come under scrutiny for his minus-24 rating, worst in the League. Getzlaf said he identifies with Staal and the pressure he's under.

"Staalsy's been through a lot of criticism as well," Getzlaf said. "He's dealt with it. The amount that I do know him, I think he dealt with it fairly well and brought himself back to where he wants to be."

Getzlaf has 1 goal in his past 13 games and has scored only twice since Dec. 6. He's coming off one of his better games, though, with an assist, plus-1 rating and three hits against Calgary.

Staal also knows what Getzlaf is going through.

"He's obviously a tremendous player," Staal said. "He's a player that obviously got off to a difficult start, but he's really coming on better now. We're very similar in how the years have went for both of us -- tough starts, but feeling better lately. He's a good player no matter what. You've got to be aware of him on the ice."

Faulk getting praise:
Carolina is also similar to Anaheim in that it has a terrific young defenseman in Justin Faulk.

Faulk, 19, was a year behind Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, 20, in the U.S. National Team program.

"I think he should definitely be in consideration for (the Calder Trophy) for what he's done for his team," Fowler said.

Carolina coach Kirk Muller said Faulk has been one of the bigger surprises since he took over as coach.

"He's so good without the puck," Muller said. "That's the big surprise for me. That's not easy to learn at that age. He plays against the top players, he plays power plays, he kills penalties. We overload him with a lot of info for a kid that age. He handles it. He handles the ice time."

Getzlaf wins hardest shot:
Getzlaf unleashed a 102 miles-per-hour slap shot during Anaheim's team skills competition on Tuesday.

It rings ironic considering Getzlaf is widely criticized for not shooting enough.

"Teemu Selanne has (655) goals," Getzlaf said. "(Corey) Perry had 50 goals last year, and neither one of them can shoot above 90 (mph). I don't think it makes you score goals. I shoot when I shoot. It's always been my thing since I was a kid that everyone wants me to shoot more and I want to shoot less. Whatever. I'll take my opportunities when they're there. I'm worried about winning games and putting the puck in the net."