ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Before these playoffs began, there was a conversation between the previous Anaheim Ducks captain and the current Ducks captain. Scott Niedermayer, now coaching for the Ducks, passed on a bit of advice to Ryan Getzlaf.
“Control what I could control, and don’t let anybody stand in our way,” Getzlaf said following the Ducks' 3-2 overtime win over the Red Wings in Game 5 on Wednesday night. “That’s the message we relay throughout our locker room every game and every period. It’s got to stay the same way, the same course, the whole time.”
It’s a level-headedness that Getzlaf has preached nonstop to his younger teammates during the Ducks' first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings, one in which they hold a 3-2 lead. It was a message he repeated before another overtime session between these two teams.
“He stepped up and settled all the guys down and made us confident that it was our game and we were going to go out [there] and play our best,” said Kyle Palmieri, whose first-period goal through a mass of bodies erased an early Red Wings lead. “It was an incredible game and it was a lot of fun to be part of.”
And Getzlaf was the best player on the ice for the entire game. His calm isn’t just in the dressing room or on the bench; he has the same poise when he’s carrying the puck. No goal was bigger than his power-play goal at the end of the second period that followed his team successfully killing off a portion of Daniel Winnik’s boarding major.
Getzlaf took a pass from Francois Beauchemin, calmly skated through the neutral zone and worked his way to the middle of the ice in front of Jimmy Howard. Sensing there was no pressure coming from the back, he waited and waited before blistering a wrister past Howard. Like that, the game was tied.
It was every bit as big as his goal in Game 3, when he converted a Damien Brunner turnover into a two-goal lead in that Ducks win. If the Ducks make a run this spring, these are going to be the moments people remember.
“To watch that guy -- the way he plays, the way he battles, the way he carries himself, he’s won before and it’s showing in these games,” Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen said. “His composure and leadership are great.”
He’s taking Niedermayer’s words to heart. Don’t let anybody stand in your way. It showed on a play Getzlaf had in overtime when he met 6-foot-4 Jonathan Ericsson in the corner for a fight for the puck, won the battle and then fed Allen with a pass that could have ended the game if he had been able to find the net.
It didn’t matter; a minute later, Nick Bonino’s goal ended it. But it was clear Getzlaf wasn’t done making plays until this thing was over.
“He backhand-passes between that guy's legs and right on my tape; I don’t know how I didn’t score,” Allen said, marveling at the skill and leadership shown by his captain. “He’s a special player and he’s showing it in this series.”