|RYAN GETZLAF, Ducks|
|A MESSIER-ANIC COMPLEX?|
Ryan Getzlaf might not have guaranteed a win in the Orange County newspapers against the Oilers last night, but much else about his performance reprised Mark Messier’s famous Game 6 against New Jersey in the 1994 semifinals.
First there’s the obvious physical similarities. Getzlaf has a regal bearing to him and like Messier wears his hair elsewhere than on his head. His upright skating posture and silky presence on the ice belie the fact that he has the heart of a lion. He exudes the Divine Right of Kings. (Before jumping down my back, Anaheim fans — would you prefer that he exuded the Divine Right of Ducks?)
Cosmetic comparisons aside, the stamp Getzlaf put on last night’s critical Game 4 in Edmonton also bore a striking resemblance to Messier’s singlehanded dismantling of the Devils 23 years ago.
With New York one game away from heartbreaking elimination in a year they were finally expected to win the Cup, Messier promised a win to the city and went out and collected a hat trick in a 4-2 win in New Jersey. The Rangers, of course, would advance, and indeed win the Cup.
Getzlaf has never played for another NHL team. His career goal total is relatively modest (236 in 861 regular season games), but he’s a plus / minus demon at +145 and only once has dipped into negative territory in his 12 years in the league. In the playoffs he averages a point per game — above his regular season numbers.
Last night, a la Messier, he had a hand in all four Ducks goals during their spine-tingling 4-3 overtime win. Two goals and two assists. And unlike Messier — no empty netter to pad the legend.
His glorious set-up of Jakob Silfverberg’s one-timer for the game-winner 45 seconds into OT topped an incredibly clutch performance all evening.
Anaheim got in an early 2-0 hole and looked dead in the water when Getzlaf snapped one home from just above the left circle early in the second period. Three and a half minutes later he spotted Rickard Rakell unattended below the right circle and got him a cross-crease pass that Rakell buried to tie the game.
But it was his third point of the night — the goal which put the Ducks up 3-2 in the third period — which had that little mystical touch that will be long remembered if Anaheim survives the series.
Following a rebound that caromed into the low slot in front of Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot, Edmonton center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was preparing to clear the puck when Getzlaf’s stick came crashing down on his from around his backside. The force of Getzlaf’s chop was enough to
Pucks are often chipped into the net from the blue paint, where sticks are constantly coming together. But this remarkable play by Getzlaf was a good ways out from there — right on the edge of the low slot.
It was a phenomenal money play and a shot that players don’t even conceive of scoring under normal circumstances. But with Anaheim’s back to the wall, Getzlaf created something from nothing. And that’s what magic is all about.
|5/3/2017 vs. Edmonton|