Centre Ryan Getzlaf shone in his first full NHL season with Anaheim, becoming one of six Ducks to reach the 25-goal plateau. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Centre Ryan Getzlaf shone in his first full NHL season with Anaheim, becoming one of six Ducks to reach the 25-goal plateau. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Q and A

The Kids are all right

Emerging star Ryan Getzlaf is enjoying his second playoff run with the Ducks

Last updated Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Anaheim Ducks centre Ryan Getzlaf first gained an appreciation for what Corey Perry brought to a team in 2003 when they played for Team Cherry at the Canadian Hockey League’s annual Top Prospects game.

Getzlaf was in his second year with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, while Perry was a 25-goal man for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

Five months later, they were chosen by Anaheim in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft – Getzlaf 19th overall and Perry 28th.

They went on to win a gold medal with Canada’s world junior team in 2005 and stuck together that October, breaking camp with the Ducks.

But with Anaheim struggling, Getzlaf and Perry were demoted to Portland of the American Hockey League on Nov. 21, 2005. They played their way back to the NHL less than two months later and haven’t looked back.

This season, the two 21-year-olds formed The Kid Line with left-winger Dustin Penner, 24, and combined for 71 points. Getzlaf often is considered the one with the most upside.

“What we’ve said about Getzlaf is he can be as good as he wants to be,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told the Los Angeles Times last month. “He can do some things that a lot of guys don’t even try to do with the puck. And he has the ability to do things at a high pace.”

Getzlaf spoke to CBC Sports Online about his relationship with Perry, his development at the NHL level and what the future might hold for the Ducks.

You're competing in your second Stanley Cup playoffs after appearing in 16 post-season games for the Anaheim Ducks a year ago. Is it a similar experience this time around?
Last year I was just getting my feet wet and it helped me develop for this year. Now I'm contributing a lot more and playing quite a few minutes. There's a little more excitement than nervousness because I know what to expect. There's pressure in every situation and it matters more in the playoffs.

You have become one of the Ducks' top penalty killers. Describe the satisfaction you get from contributing in that area of the game?
I think it enables me to get involved in the game quick and allows me to become a more complete player.

You and linemate Corey Perry are both 21, your birthdays are six days apart, you both shoot right-handed and are similar in size. How are you different from each other?
We play a little different game. He's more of a finesse player than I am. He's also quieter than me and maybe that's why we got along so well from the start. I was always the talker but he's getting there.

Early last season, you were both sent to Portland of the American Hockey League for about two months before returning to Anaheim for the rest of the season. How did sharing the same experiences with Corey Perry help accelerate your climb to the NHL?
We developed a lot of chemistry, played well and that made it easier to get called up. Anytime you have someone around you can talk to if you had a bad day at the rink it's always nice. But usually if the coach was yelling he was yelling at us both. I think going to Portland was just to boost our confidence. We went there with the right attitude and worked our way up. We needed each other to do that.

You had seven points in your first nine playoff games this year compared to seven in 16 post-season contests in 2006. Is the increased production simply a result of getting more ice time or are there other factors?
I think everything has contributed to it. Obviously, the ice time has helped and who I've been playing with. I'm also shooting more and when you have confidence, it's easier to get those points.

Left-winger Dustin Penner may be the least known member of The Kid Line with yourself and Corey Perry but he's no slouch, having scored 29 goals and 45 points in 82 games this season. How does he complement your game?
He's a big guy [six-foot-four, 245 pounds] and controls the puck well down low [in the offensive zone]. He creates a lot of space for Corey and I by hanging onto the puck.

As a line, Ducks winger Rob Niedermayer has said there isn't much inconsistency in your game and he can see your confidence growing. How accurate is he in those comments?
On a personal level, where have you made the biggest strides this season? I think that's probably fair to say. We're developing as a group that can play every night and control [the game]. As for my game, I think just everything is better. I've heard my faceoff [success rate] has come up this year, I'm shooting the puck more and I'm not trying to over pass. But confidence is the biggest [difference from last season].

Ryan Getzlaf, right, and Corey Perry make up two-thirds of the Ducks' Kid Line that combined for 71 goals this season. Dustin Penner is the third member of the unit. (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press) Ryan Getzlaf, right, and Corey Perry make up two-thirds of the Ducks' Kid Line that combined for 71 goals this season. Dustin Penner is the third member of the unit. (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)

You were one of six 25-goal scorers with the Ducks this season after scoring 14 goals in 57 games in your rookie campaign of 2005-06. Did you feel 25 goals was attainable entering this season?
It definitely wasn’t a goal I set. It was hard to know going into the season what I kind of ice time our line would get.

For the better part of two seasons, you have had the privilege of playing with two former Norris Trophy winners (Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger) and a top goal scorer in Teemu Selanne. How have they contributed to your development as an NHL player?
Could you point to some advice any of the three has given you that stuck from Day 1? It’s been great to have those guys to look up to. Last year I was fortunate to have a chance to sit back and pay attention to what they were doing on the ice. For me, Teemu is a guy I enjoy being around. He comes to the rink, has fun and tells you to have fun playing the game and enjoy what you’re doing.

Is Ducks coach Randy Carlyle unique with regards to his coaching philosophy or does he remind you of some of your previous coaches?
I think every coach has his own little ways. A lot of coaches are similar these days and differ in the way they attempt to get their point across. Randy is fair. He’s been good to us [myself, Perry and Penner]. He gives us a lot of playing time in different situations to allow us to develop.

Who in the hockey world has had the biggest influence so far in your young NHL career?
Obviously, my parents [Susan and Steve] have played a big role. A lot of people have helped along the way. My billets in Calgary helped make it easier living away from home [playing junior hockey].

What excites you most about the current group of Ducks?
What we’ll be capable of in the future. We have a lot of good veteran players to look up to and a lot of young guys who are going to continue to develop and hopefully take it as far as we can.

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