If there’s one thing that professional athletes largely have in common, it’s that they don’t like to rock the boat when the pressure is at its highest.
Professional golfers strictly adhere to a preshot routine before taking any swing. Some athletes prepare for every game the same way, whether it’s taping up their sticks a certain way or taking a nap at a specified time.
Hockey players are no exception to this rule, but for Ryan Getzlaf, the past few days have been anything but ordinary for him. Yes, he did score a goal and add an assist in the Anaheim Ducks' 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night, but he wasn’t on the ice to celebrate with his teammates after the win. That's because he was in the dressing room having his face looked after taking a slap shot off the stick of Tyler Seguin in the game’s closing seconds. Getzlaf was ultimately diagnosed with a facial laceration, and other than getting some stitches he is expected to be fine for Game 2 on Friday night.
The injury isn’t the only uncommon challenge that the Ducks captain has been facing. On Friday morning, his wife Paige gave birth to a baby girl, and everyone is doing well, according to reports. That news is certainly easier to deal with than a puck to the face, but Getzlaf will still be a tired guy when he hits the ice for Game 2, and that could provide an interesting story line to watch.
That’s because Getzlaf isn’t just tasked with scoring goals and creating offense for the Ducks. He is also one of the team’s primary defensive forwards, and he has been assigned the unenviable task of making sure that Seguin and Jamie Benn, two of the Stars’ primary offensive weapons, are kept in check as much as possible.
The duo showed exactly what they were capable of on Wednesday night, as they each scored goals to key an intense rally attempt by the Stars. They also racked up a combined 10 shots on goal, and even though their furious comeback attempt fell just short, they proved that no lead is entirely safe when facing offensive weapons like those.
That’s why it’s so critical to the Ducks that Getzlaf is fully healthy when he hits the ice for Game 2. He is the straw that stirs the drink for Anaheim both when they have the puck and when they’re trying to get it back. His physicality and ability to play well on the forecheck are both tremendous assets for a Ducks team that is trying to make life easier for young goaltender Frederik Andersen, and if he is limited in any way, then Dallas could have been given a bit of a boost as they try to tie the series up before it shifts back to the Lone Star State.
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-Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau hasn’t confirmed yet whether or not Andersen will start in net on Friday night, but said “there’s a good chance” after practice on Thursday. If Andersen doesn’t end up going, it would likely be Jonas Hiller jumping into the crease, with John Gibson more of an outside shot to suit up for the game.
-Matt Beleskey, who scored a goal and added an assist in Wednesday’s win, did not practice with the team during Friday’s morning skate and will likely be out of the lineup for Game 2. Devante Smith-Pelly took Beleskey’s spot on the top line and would be the most likely person to replace him if he can’t go.