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Wings need to shut down Getzlaf

by Eric Stephens /
ANAHEIM, Calif. — At 6-4 and 221 pounds, Ryan Getzlaf stands out in any crowd.

There's no doubt the Detroit Red Wings know who Getzlaf is -- but the defending Stanley Cup champions have been virtually powerless in trying to contain the big and talented Anaheim Ducks center.

In the first two games of this Western Conference semifinal, Getzlaf has a goal and four assists and has been involved in all but one of Anaheim's goals. After a career-best 91-point season and a big first round against San Jose star Joe Thornton, it appears as if the Regina, Saskatchewan, native is about to join the ranks of the League's top players -- if he hasn't already.

"Getzlaf is as good a player there is down the middle," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I don't know if he's ever going to get 120 points like [Pittsburgh's Evgeni] Malkin or something like that. But at playoff time, he's going to be good."

The Red Wings canceled their morning skate Tuesday after opting to practice Monday afternoon at the Honda Center following their charter flight. After consulting with some of his top players on the flight, Babcock wanted his team to quickly stretch its legs and then rest up for Game 3.

It's possible that Babcock and his staff might spend some of the down time devising up a strategy to shut down Getzlaf. But that's easier said than done.

Even in the regular season, Getzlaf produced against the Red Wings. He had a career-high five assists on Oct. 29 in a 5-4 overtime win. The Ducks' pivot, who turns 24 next week, had 2 goals and 2 assists in the other three games, failing to make the scoresheet only once.

Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg had praise for not only Getzlaf, but linemates Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.

"He's really creative offensively," Zetterberg said of Getzlaf. "His linemates are good snipers. All three have good reach and protect the puck really well."

The Red Wings are hoping that their depth takes its toll on Getzlaf, who is being used heavily by Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle. Getzlaf played a shade under 39 minutes in the Ducks' Game 2 triple-overtime win and led all players with 27:55 of ice time in Detroit's Game 1 victory.

"I'm hoping it's a factor, for sure," Babcock said. "The more people you throw at him, the better."

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall echoed his coach's thoughts.

"I hope he's going to get tired obviously," Kronwall said. "But he's a tremendous player. He's unbelievable both ways. He makes plays that not a lot of other guys can handle.

"He's playing really well for them. He's logging a lot of minutes and an important piece of the puzzle. Hopefully he's going to wear down. You never know. We just got to keep going after him."
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