They’ve been one of the league’s most dominant duos over the past few years and they’ve kept that going to start this season. The Ducks are one of the top teams in the league once again with an 8-3-0 record, and Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry both – with 12 points – are a big reason why. Together, they’re an elite force.
Over the last five years the two have played together for 4,618 minutes at 5-on-5. In that time they’ve dominated the scoresheet (57.8 percent of the goals) despite being just decent at dominating territory (51.6 percent of shot attempts). Superstars can do that because they can consistently outscore the average NHLer. So Getzlaf and Perry are great together. Duh. Apart is where things get more interesting and could show why the pair is so dominant.
Getzlaf has spent just under 600 minutes without Perry from 2009-14, which is the equivalent of about 37 games, or not a lot. Perry on the other hand has spent almost 1,000 minutes away from Getzlaf, or about 64 games.
For either, it’s not even a season’s worth of games at their regular playing time. But in that time two things are noticeable: they aren’t nearly as good without each other (like most players really), and they’re worse at different things. Without Perry, Getzlaf’s possession numbers plummet to 43.1 percent, but the goal share stays at 47.3 percent. Perry is the complete opposite. His goal share goes down to 44.7, but his possession numbers only fall to 47.2 percent.
There are obviously a lot of things at play here, but it seems like what makes the pair so effective is that each one has the ability to drive play differently. Perry drives possession, while Getzlaf drives scoring percentages. With one doing the other and vice versa, it seems as if Getzlaf and Perry are the yin to each other’s yang. Perfect chemistry.
Of course, those aren’t a lot of minutes away from each other, so the small sample should be taken with a grain of salt. Rather than look at just them apart from each other, it’s important to look at how each one affects every one they’ve played with in Anaheim (luckily the newly minted puckaytics.com lets us do just that).
In terms of shooting percentage relative to the team, Getzlaf boosts his teammates by 2.2 percent while Perry does it by 1.2 percent, both elite numbers. In terms of Corsi percentage relative to the team, again it’s the opposite: Perry boosts his teammates by 3.8 percent, while Getzlaf boosts his teammates by 2.7 percent.
Is this the secret to what makes the pair so great together? I certainly think it’s a big part of it. The perfect symmetry between their possession and shooting numbers is just too coincidental to ignore. What’s visible on the ice is that Perry is a hard-nosed two-way winger, and that Getzlaf is an elite playmaking center. The numbers seem to back that up. Perry’s great forechecking ability keeps the puck in the zone, while Getzlaf’s vision puts players in better positions to score.
How perfect are Getzlaf and Perry for each other? Their closest comparables – using these numbers at least – are two players who probably have kinetic mind-reading twin powers. Yes, the Sedins. Perry is to Daniel what Getzlaf is to Henrik, except the twins were much more dominant.
Over the same time frame, the Sedins controlled play 58.7 percent of the time, scoring 65.2 percent of the goals in the process. Henrik boosted his teammates' on-ice shooting percentage by 2.9 percent (third behind Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos) to Daniel’s 1.9, while Daniel boosted his teammates' possession by 7.7 percent (second behind Patrice Bergeron) to Henrik’s 6.3. Those numbers are insane, and I don’t think people give enough credit to how great those two were in their prime. Of course, they have telepathy, so it’s not fair to judge other pairs on their standards.
They had a down year in 2013-14, but the Sedins, now 34, have played some great hockey this season for the Canucks even if it’s not back to the same level as their MVP seasons. Getzlaf and Perry aren’t very young either. Both turn 30 in May – born six days apart makes them practically twins, too – so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them start falling soon.
With more coaches putting emphasis on pairs instead of lines in their forward groups, having two lethal weapons playing together with great chemistry is an almost essential building block to any contender. It takes just two to make a line an unstoppable force, and in Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks have just that.
But they won’t have it for much longer. Here’s who could be next in line to the dynamic duo throne:
Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn: This one is obvious. They lit the league on fire last season with point-per-game seasons and 66.7 percent of the goals when they were on together. Seguin drives play better than most people expect, and Benn can score from anywhere. He’s a career 12 percent shooter at 5-on-5, although Seguin is no slouch himself at the 10 percent mark. They have 26 points combined this year, and they’ll surpass Getzlaf and Perry as the league’s premier duo, if they haven’t already.
Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog: MacKinnon has elite vision, speed, and goal-creating ability. He’s a perfect fit to Landeskog who is quickly becoming one of the best two-way wingers in the league. He’s boosted his teammates’ Corsi by 4 percent since he entered the league in 2011. MacKinnon will need that boost since he’s still learning the ropes defensively in the NHL. Both are off to very slow starts this year, but it’s only a matter of time before they take off.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall: The potential is there for these two to become forces in the West. Hall is already there. Until last season he drove play at a very high pace considering his team. In his first three seasons his Corsi relative to his teammates without him was 5.3 percent better. Last season it was -0.6. Nugent-Hopkins’s vision and playmaking ability were lauded in his draft year, but he hasn’t been able to up the percentages of those around him like other top picks have. Edmonton’s success hinges on their two top guns finally figuring it out together.