This hasn’t been the season anyone believed the Ducks would be having. After falling one win short of the Stanley Cup final last season, Anaheim is fighting to stay in playoff contention and it hasn’t helped that Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf is having a season he’d love to forget.
While his point totals aren’t awful — through 38 games, he has three goals and 26 points — Getzlaf’s production on a points per game level is the lowest of his career. He’s on pace for 53 points this season which would be the lowest total in any campaign that he’s played at least 60 games.
That said, Getzlaf, 30, had actually picked up his play over the past month and his season seemed ready to finally turn a corner. Getzlaf’s season had yet another disappointing moment Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators, though, as he made an abysmal neutral zone turnover that sent Curtis Lazar in alone for a breakaway goal and glued Getzlaf to the bench:
Lazar netted his goal with 3:48 remaining in the second frame. Not coincidentally, that was the last time Getzlaf took a shift in the second period and he didn’t see the ice again until the five-minute mark of the third period. In total, Getzlaf only saw 2:31 of ice time in the third frame. For a fourth-liner, that’s a decent period’s work. For Getzlaf, a bonafide first-line center, that constitutes a benching.
Post-game, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t speak in depth about the turnover but said replacing Getzlaf on the top line isn’t something that he wants to become a habit.
“I certainly don’t want to do it too often,” Boudreau told the OC Register’s Eric Stephens post-game. “What happens there is between me and Getzy and we’ll talk about it again tomorrow.”
Getzlaf did make amends for his mistake late in the game when Boudreau threw him Getzlaf into the mix on a power play with little more than five minutes remaining in the contest. Getzlaf made a great pass to defenseman Shea Theodore who walked in and scored the game-winning goal, which was also the first goal of his career.
Following the game, Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen said scoring and getting the victory was the team’s way of showing their support for their captain.
“We wanted to pick [Getzlaf] up,” Andersen said. “He’s the leader of our team. He’s been the guy who picks up other guys. He’s a great leader. We wanted to make it the other way this time and get the win.”
Anaheim is back in action Friday against the Dallas Stars and Getzlaf will likely be right back in his top-line role. But the Ducks have adopted a more defensive system this season in an attempt to shut the opposition down in a campaign where Anaheim’s offense has struggled. As such, mistakes like Getzlaf’s can’t fly and Boudreau won’t be afraid to sit his captain down again.