Ryan Getzlaf wrestles with ‘terrible’ late series struggles

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Unlike his counterparts in hockey-crazed parts of North America, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks doesn’t face an army of media day in and day out. He doesn’t face as much criticism on a national level as do players like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

But with back-to-back poor showings in the Chicago Blackhawks two straight wins to capture the conference title, that may change.

In Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, Getzlaf was down right terrible in the Ducks loss. He went as far as to acknowledge it in the post game: “It started with me,” Getzlaf said. “I was terrible tonight and that’s on me.

Naturally the captain would come back and be the behemoth he had been in the regular season and the first two rounds.

Not so much.

Getzlaf was on the ice for three of the five Blackhawks goals. He was running out of his way to hit opposing players, leaving others wide open to make plays. About the only thing positive for Getzlaf was his face-off total, 58-percent, his highest in the series.

To pretty much everyone with eyes, Getzlaf was terrible – again. And for the third year in a row, the Ducks blew a 3-2 series lead only to lose in Game 7 at home to a lower seed.

Catastrophes in Games 6 and 7 are becoming a disturbing trend for Getzlaf. Against Detroit in 2013, he was a minus-1, 15-of-39 on face-offs, and scored 1 assist. In 2014 against Los Angeles, he was a minus-3 with 1 assist and 14-of-45 on the dot. Against Chicago, Getzlaf once again registered 1 assist, was minus-4 and went 15-of-36.

“I felt better [in Game 7]. I’m not going to say I played great. I didn’t play good enough to win,” said Getzlaf. “I felt better as a whole. I felt more prepared for the game to do what I needed to do, and get going after they scored our first shift.”

Wait. What?

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau takes a lot of heat for his decisions in the post-season and rightfully so. Yet, how much blame should he get when the one guy he counts on the most to play at his best every night is bringing his team down in the two most important games of the season?

“All I know is Ryan Getzlaf played for us very hard, and he is a great captain.  He’s the first one that’s going to be wishing that things had turned out a little bit different ’cause he was ready to play, and he played his ass off or his heart out, whatever you want to call it,” said Boudreau after Game 7.

“It didn’t work in his favor today.”

You’re right Bruce, the odds weren’t in his favor.

Did the captain feel like this time would be different for the Ducks in Game 7?

“I felt like the room was better. More prepared to do what we need to do and then it’s a matter of going out and executing it. We can’t win the game from in here. We’ve got to go out and execute on the ice, and there’s another team that’s trying to do the same thing,” said Getzlaf.

“We’ll learn, keep pushing forward. We’ve got a great core group and hopefully we can keep most of us together and keep going.”