Ryan Getzlaf played in his 1,000th NHL game on Sunday as his Anaheim Ducks fell to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime. It’s been a fruitful 1,000 games for the veteran. Although he’s showed some signs of slowing down, Getzlaf still looks to have a few more years in the tank.
The Ducks selected the Regina, Saskatchewan native No. 19 overall in the 2003 NHL Draft. Since then he’s been slipping perfect passes through Pacific Division defenses and leading the Ducks in points. Let’s take a look back at three of his most impressive seasons to date.
2006-07: Not Too Young for a Title
For obvious reasons, the 2006-07 Ducks season is one that fans and players from that team alike will remember forever, after taking home Southern California’s first Stanley Cup title.
Getzlaf, in only his second season, was continuing to take steps toward becoming the dominant player we know him as now. However, after a 14-goal, 25-assist rookie season, Getzlaf was already a household name among Ducks fans.
He started the 2006-07 season by continuing to endear himself to the Ducks faithful by scoring the go-ahead goal in the third period of a 3-2 season-opening victory over the rival Los Angeles Kings.
Getzlaf continued his successful sophomore season with a five-game point streak to close out October and start November helping the Ducks take nine of a possible 10 points in that span.
The young center played exceptionally well against the previous season’s runner-up, the Edmonton Oilers. Getzlaf tallied six points in the Ducks’ four meetings against Edmonton, including a game-winning goal in overtime.
Getzlaf Playoff Potency
Getzlaf’s playoff performance for Anaheim that season was critical to their Stanley Cup title.
Anaheim’s young franchise center started off the postseason on fire. He tallied an assist in Anaheim’s Game 1 win over the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference Quarterfinal. He then scored the shorthanded game-winner in the Ducks’ Game 2 victory.
That shorthanded goal was a thing of beauty as Getzlaf undressed Wild defender Martin Skoula before going backhand shelf on Niklas Backstrom.
That might have been the prettiest of Getzlaf’s 14 playoff points in the 2007 championship run, but not by much, and it was certainly not the most impactful.
That came during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Ottawa Senators who many favored to win the series. The Ducks and Senators counterpunched their way through the series’ opening game before Getzlaf took a cross-checking penalty almost four minutes into the second period.
The penalty would be a costly one when Wade Redden scored the go-ahead goal on a one-timer from the point.
Getzlaf would redeem himself in the third, to tie the game at two.
The Ducks went on to win the game 3-2, and, as Ducks fans fondly remember, the series, four games to one. Getzlaf scored four points in the Final on the way to the Ducks victory.
2008-09: Points and Records Come in Bunches for Getzlaf
By 2008-09, Getzlaf had entered the prime of his hockey career. At 23 years old and coming off of a career-high mark of 82 points the previous season, expectations were high for Getzlaf, and he delivered.
His 91 total points ranked him No. 8 in Ducks history for most points in a season. He finished the season tied for No. 6 in the NHL in points with Ilya Kovalchuk and tied for third in assists with 66.
Those 66 assists set the Ducks record for most assists in a season.
Just two seasons removed from their title, and with their core mostly still together, expectations were high for the Ducks as well.
Unfortunately, both Anaheim and their franchise center came out of the gates slow. Getzlaf failed to register a point in his first four games of the season, and the Ducks failed to register a win.
That changed in their fifth game versus the San Jose Sharks when Getzlaf notched his first assist and the Ducks their first win.
Following a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, both the team and the player caught fire. Getzlaf started a nine-game points streak where he totaled six goals and 12 assists for 18 points. During that streak, he tied Teemu Selanne and Dmitri Mironov for most assists in a single game with five against the Detroit Red Wings.
That was just the first of three, eight-game or longer scoring streaks Getzlaf managed that season. His longest, which started Jan. 2 against the Philadelphia Flyers and ended Jan. 20 against the New York Rangers, lasted 10 games.
Ducks’ Playoff Engine Revs Again
The Ducks entered the playoffs against the Sharks as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and Getzlaf continued to thrive in the playoffs. In a six-game upset over the Sharks, Getzlaf propelled his team with eight points. Getzlaf factored into exactly half of the Ducks’ goals in that series.
He followed that up with a remarkable performance against Detroit. In spite of the seven-game series loss to the Red Wings and a bout of the flu, Getzlaf scored 10 points (two goals, eight assists). He scored or assisted on 10 of the Ducks’ 17 goals for the series, showing that he had only scratched the surface of his playoff potential in 2006-07. (from ‘Illness, not injury, reason for Getzlaf’s low minutes,’ LA Times, 05/10/2009)
2009-10: Getzlaf Cements his International Legacy
The 2009-10 season might not seem outwardly memorable for Getzlaf’s Ducks career. Injuries, including a sprained ankle that put his spot on the Canadian Olympic team in jeopardy, limited Getzlaf to 66 games that season. (from ‘Canada ponders Ryan Getzlaf’s injury,’ LA Times, 02/14/2010)
His total of 69 points was a significant drop from the 91 points he had a season before, and the Ducks missed the playoffs by six points in the Western Conference.
While his NHL performance was less than his average, his international performance as a member of Team Canada’s 2010 Olympic gold medal-winning team solidified his reputation as one of the world’s most dominant centermen.
Getzlaf had a relatively quiet preliminary round for Team Canada tallying a single goal in the team’s tournament-opening blowout of Norway, perhaps due to his ankle injury.
Medal Round Magic
In typical Getzlaf fashion, he turned up the heat when the games mattered most in the medal round. He broke out of his funk with a three-point (one goal, two assists) performance in Canada’s 7-3 victory over rival Russia.
He followed that up with the eventual game-winning goal and an assist for good measure in Canada’s 3-2 semi-final victory over Slovakia.
Finally, he helped Canada top the United States in the gold medal game, assisting on Corey Perry’s rebound goal.
Getzlaf’s seven points in the Olympic tournament tied him with Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla and Sidney Crosby for second on Team Canada in scoring and had him one point behind Jonathan Toews for the lead.
Though he has not won a World Championship gold medal, which would put him in the triple gold club, Getzlaf has won a World Junior Championship gold medal.
The WJC gold, plus his two gold medals in the Olympics, and the Ducks 2007 Stanley Cup, still puts Getzlaf in rarified air in the international hockey community.
Though many Ducks fans may not want to hear it, Getzlaf’s Hockey Hall of Fame credentials aren’t that solid in spite of his distinguished NHL career and his identity as one of the best all-time Ducks. However, if he does make it, his contributions to Team Canada’s 2010 Olympic gold medal will likely have helped him a great deal in getting there.
Getzlaf’s 15 seasons as the Ducks’ franchise center have given fans a lot to reasons to love him. Though he’s been a central part for the Ducks for more than half of the franchise’s existence, three seasons; 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2009-10 stand out from the rest and assure that Getzlaf’s name will one day appear in the rafters of the Honda Center.