Making Sense of Ryan Getzlaf’s Disappointing Season

2.17.

That’s been Ryan Getzlaf’s average points per 60 minutes played since the 2007-08 season, the season he started getting major ice time.

1.13.

That’s where Getzlaf sits 29 games into the 2015-16 season, a full point lower than his career average.

Quite a few players around the National Hockey League would be just fine with that number.

When you’re a player of Getzlaf’s ilk and you make $9.25 million dollars a year, expectations are understandably higher.

Chastised throughout the hockey world, labeled a “casual” player by TSN analyst Ray Ferraro, there’s been a seemingly never-ending stream of criticism directed towards the Ducks’ captain.

Let’s make no mistake here: the criticism is warranted, to a degree. Getzlaf’s lack of production is a major reason that Anaheim finds itself at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings.

Getzlaf The Goal-Scorer?

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The Ducks have a league-low 56 goals scored on the season. That’s a full 20 goals less than the hapless Columbus Blue Jackets.

Getzlaf’s contribution to that total? One empty-netter a month ago against the Carolina Hurricanes. Not exactly the stuff of legend.

Though historically cast as a pass-first guy, one goal is a laughably low total for even the shyest of shooters. Is shyness keeping the former Olympian from scoring goals?

He’ll never be mistaken for Alex Ovechkin, but Getzlaf is actually firing pucks at the net more frequently than ever. He’s currently attempting over 14 shots on goal per 60 minutes of even strength play, his highest total by a good chunk since the ’07-08 season. If anything, he might be trying to shoot his way out of this slump.

What does he have to show for it? An almost cruelly low 0.00 shooting percentage when a goalie is in the net. Man, that must sting.

The struggling Duck has actually been an above average shooter throughout his career, finding the back of the net on 10.37 percent of his shots.

That percentage should allow even the most casual of observers to logically deduce that by firing more pucks than ever towards the net, Getzlaf is bound to start scoring sooner rather than later. Though not the sexiest of explanations, it’s the one that appears to make the most sense.

Getzlaf The Playmaker?

Making highlight-reel passes has always been the main attraction of Getzlaf’s skill set. No matter how tight the space, he’s always been able to find teammates for scoring opportunities.

Ferraro’s “casual” comment? It’s not totally unfair; Getzlaf has always raised the collective blood pressure in the Honda Center thanks to his no-look backhand passes out of the defensive zone. Though unsavory, it’s an element to his game that’s always been there. Now that he’s struggling, it’s an easy point of criticism. Plays like this one won’t be quieting the naysayers anytime soon:

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“Casual” may not be the wrong term, but it casts Getzlaf as a player who might not necessarily care enough. Anyone who’s seen him play over the years can easily refute that claim.

Turnovers will happen, especially for someone who likes to pass the puck as much as he does. That being said, it’s not a byproduct that has to be readily accepted. Maybe this is the year that head coach Bruce Boudreau takes a stand against Getzlaf’s lackadaisical passing (assuming he hasn’t already).

Even then, Getzlaf is on pace to eclipse last year’s total of 45 assists. At even strength however, he’s struggling to collect helpers at his career rate per 60 minutes of play. Part of that is due to the fact that linemate Corey Perry has been snake-bitten at even strength, potting the majority of his goals on the powerplay.

The plain truth may just be that at 30 , Getzlaf is beginning to enter the decline of his career, as the majority of players his age do. He’s not nearly as bad as he’s shown so far though. He still possesses greater hockey sense in the offensive zone than anyone on the team, and his shot will eventually start going in. Yet in a business that espouses the “what have you done for me lately?” mentality, Getzlaf is only colored by anecdotal evidence and surface-level analysis.

As the Ducks continue their steady improvement at even strength, so will Getzlaf, who finally has a competent left winger in Rickard Rakell. Though it may have have taken longer than most Ducks’s fans would like, there’s good reason to believe that Getzlaf will eventually hit his stride as the season wears on. No one has ever scored on zero percent of their shots for an entire season, right?