DETROIT – Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf and Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen seem to have some similarities.
They’re both in their fourth NHL season.
The six-foot-four, 216-pound Getzlaf is an inch taller and four pounds lighter than Franzen.
Getzlaf has 39 points in 50 playoff games in his career to Franzen’s 35 points in 45 post-season games.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, though, said they’re not the same type of player nor are they in the same class.
“Johan is a real good player,” Babcock said. “Getzlaf is one of the best players in the world.”
Getzlaf will get another chance to show what he can do Sunday in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal.
The Ducks need Getzlaf to deliver just as he did in Game 1 when he assisted on both of their goals in a 3-2 loss at Joe Louis Arena, giving him an NHL-high 10 points entering Saturday’s games.
Getzlaf extended his points streak in the playoffs to five games.
“I’m just playing the same way I did during the regular season,” Getzlaf said, shrugging his shoulders. “Obviously, I’ve had a little playoff experience since I’ve been here, so that helps.”
Getzlaf played in 16 playoff games as a rookie in 2006, led the Ducks with 17 points the next season when they hoisted the Cup, then signed a five-year contract extension worth US$26-plus million.
Last month, Franzen signed an 11-year contract worth $43.5 million in part because he likes blending in on a talent-laden roster.
“It’s pretty comfortable to have it like that,” Franzen said. “So many players in here can score goals, it takes the pressure off you a little bit.”
If the 29-year-old Franzen, known as “Mule” in the Motor City, would’ve had some fodder for suitors if he chose to shop his skills.
Franzen proved he wasn’t a one-post-season wonder during this past regular season after helping Detroit win the Stanley Cup with a franchise-record-tying 13 goals in a post-season. He set career highs this season with 34 goals, 59 points and a plus-minus rating of plus-21.
Franzen, Joe Sakic, Jarome Iginla, Martin St. Louis, Daniel Alfredsson, Mats Sundin, Jeremy Roenick and Mark Recchi are the only active players with at least 20 goals in their first 45 post-season games, according to STATS.
That kind of production is not what Detroit dreamed of when it drafted him 97th overall five years ago.
It would also be difficult to find somebody in Sweden who would’ve predicted it.
“People back home thought he was good, but he’s gone to another level no one saw coming,” teammate and countrymen Mikael Samuelsson said.
Getzlaf was projected to be good when the Ducks drafted him 19th overall in 2003 out of Regina and he has surpassed expectations.
He’s had 173 points during the past two regular seasons and was an all-star each year. The 23-year-old Getzlaf ranked third in the league with 66 assists this season, setting a franchise record, and sixth with 91 points.
“All of the young guns – Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – have great hands, but Getz has the best hands I’ve ever seen,” 38-year-old teammate Teemu Selanne said. “I haven’t seen a more dominant player than Getzlaf in the league.”
Even though Selanne sounded overcome with hyperbole, Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood didn’t think the boasts were outrageous.
“He’s an underrated guy because he plays in Anaheim and doesn’t get a lot of attention,” Osgood said. “Obviously, he’s one of the top five power forwards in the game.”