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This article was published 13/4/2015 (2377 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They are the top Ducks. And to beat them, you have to limit the damage inflicted by Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. It is priority No. 1. Everyone knows this and plans for this. Execution, however, is another matter.
Anaheim was 30-8-2 when one or both of the duo scored a goal this season and a more pedestrian 21-16-5 when they were blanked. In three wins in three games over the Jets this season, Getzlaf had a goal and five assists. Perry didn’t register a point, but he missed two of the matches.
A big factor with these two players is their experience and their willingness to compete for an entire game and it’s why the Ducks are one of the most dangerous third period teams in NHL history. They set a league record this season with 18 wins after trailing at any time in the third period.
Perry and Getzlaf. Getzlaf and Perry. However you say it, they are the Anaheim Ducks. Together they’ve won a world junior championship, a Stanley Cup and two Olympic titles.
This season, Getzlaf tied for fourth in primary assists (31), tied for third in even-strength scoring (22-33-55) and 10th in even-strength assists (33). Thirteen of his 25 goals either tied a game or gave the Ducks a lead, and six were game winners.
A former Hart Trophy winner, Perry had 33 goals which tied for 10th in the NHL.
Certainly the Ducks have other key players — Ryan Kessler and Hampus Lindholm — but Perry and Getzlaf are the head of the snake. To beat the Ducks, they must be silenced. Or at least muffled.
Ask around and there are lots of theories but none consistently work. The simple fact is they are among the NHL’s top duos and they’re going to do their thing. Making them work for their points and limiting them is the best one can hope to accomplish. Shutting them down completely just doesn’t happen.
One Eastern Conference coach contacted Monday morning and asked how to control Perry and Getzlaf snorted at the question.
"Ha. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it. Think of basketball. The best guys are going to get their points. But you want to make it hard on them," he said. "Getzlaf is a rock. You can hit him if you can catch him but it doesn’t bother him. Perry is a little slower and you can hit him and he can get distracted. When they get the puck in your zone, you have to be on them quick and as soon as one of your guys is there, another has to help out fast. But that leaves somebody open and you want it to be the weak side D. You have to have a plan and you have to be disciplined. Let’s face it, they can kill you. The best way to limit them is to make them work in their own zone. Make them play defence. They hate that. Who doesn’t?"
Perry and Getzlaf are most dangerous once they’re able to set up in the offensive zone. Getzlaf can hold the puck using his big body and reach. Perry is crafty and finds seams and is perhaps the best net front player in the NHL. Give him a bit of room and a sliver of time and the puck is in the net.
Pro scouts polled on Monday had similar things to say about the matchup between Anaheim and Winnipeg and most of it centred on controlling the Ducks’ top line.
So how will the Jets try to slow Perry and Getzlaf down? What matchup will they seek?
Getzlaf is listed at 6-4 and 220 pounds while Perry goes 6-3 and 215 pounds. They’re big men with high-end skill.
Allowing Getzlaf to gain the blue-line and set up down low is akin to drinking poison. The Jets have to make him go 200 feet as often as possible. Turning the puck over in the neutral zone and giving Getzlaf the opportunity to begin working on offence early in a shift improves his chances for success.
Perry isn’t a burner and hitting him is a possibility. So is getting under his skin. He can be distracted.
The Jets, however, if their strategy is to try and run the Ducks out of the rink, will have to be disciplined.
Anaheim’s power play struggled this season and finished 28th in the league at 15.7 per cent, but it could get hot in a minute. With three days of practice prior to Game 1, expect the Ducks to have worked on the man advantage situation.
It should be noted, the Ducks did have five power play goals in three wins over the Jets this season and Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau will be working the officials before the series starts.
That’s a big part of the mind game that is the playoffs.
The Jets won’t have the luxury of last change in Anaheim where the series begins but with their top-six defencemen now healthy, they have size, mobility and puck handling ability on all three pairings.
If Getzlaf and Perry are able to run wild, this will be a long series for the Jets. For Winnipeg to overcome the inbalance the standings suggest exists, keeping the Ducks mighty duo off the scoresheet for long stretches of a seven-game series is the top task.