Ryan Getzlaf Returns to Ducks' Lineup as Anaheim Takes Down Detroit

SKCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 05: Bobby Ryan #9 of the Anaheim Ducks and Todd Bertuzzi #44 of the Detroit Red Wings exchange words at the Honda Center on January 5, 2010 in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Red Wings 4-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

What a night to be a hockey fan in Anaheim.

It doesn't matter how injured the Ducks are, or how injured the Red Wings are, when Detroit comes to town, you know it's going to be an exciting game.

Having lost five of their previous six games, the Ducks were desperate for a win.

They were also desperate for one of their star players to return to the lineup.

Enter Ryan Getzlaf.

Currently tied for the team lead in points with linemate Corey Perry, it's hard to realize what Getzlaf does for a team until he's out of the lineup for a few games.  It's not just Getzlaf's amazing puck handling and play making abilities, it's the little things he does for the team on a nightly basis that often go unnoticed.

The physical presence of Getzlaf alone is enough to cause goalies to question their positioning, the best defenders to become rooted to the ice, and forwards to wonder what happened to the puck that was just on their stick.

Getzlaf is the type of guy who will sit back and wait for the perfect moment to intercept a pass.  In the blink of an eye, he's cleared the puck up ice for his winger to put in the back of the net and the defenders are left wondering where they went wrong.

He's going to watch you move through the neutral zone, meet you at the blue line, and make you wish you had chosen another route.

And he's going to do it again and again over the course of 60 minutes.

I don't know if Getzlaf needed to endure an injury to help him find that player within, but the Ducks saw one of his better performances this season Tuesday night.

The best part of a Getzlaf "performance" is the benefit of playing on his wings.  Matt Beleskey was given the opportunity to play alongside Getzlaf and Perry for the first time, and was rewarded with his first NHL goal.  Likewise, Perry, who had been on a scoreless streak lately, finally saw that come to an end with his 17th goal of the season.

While Getzlaf wasn't able to right all of the wrongs for Anaheim (like the power play), his return to the lineup was something the Ducks needed to overcome a brutal road trip.

But Getzlaf wasn't alone.

The Ducks received fabulous efforts from players like Saku Koivu, who had a short handed goal in the first period and subsequently recorded his 200th career NHL goal.  Sheldon Brookbank, who assisted on two of the Ducks four goals and is possibly playing the best hockey of his career.  Goaltender Jonas Hiller showed that with solid defensive efforts in front of him, he can win games for his team.

Overall, the Ducks performed to a standard they should hold themselves to on a regular basis.  It's a standard the fans expect from them, and I'm sure it's a standard the players hold for themselves.

But like I said before, it was a great night to be a hockey fan, and not just in Anaheim.

During a brief timeout in play, fans were directed to the scoreboard above to see a replay of the overtime game-wining goal for team USA in the IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.

The details of the goal are remarkable.  If you have yet to see a replay, here it is. Believe me when I say, the goal is fabulous.  Watch the video in its entirety, but at the 1:40 mark during the replays, you'll notice John Carlson scores the goal without even looking at the net.

Just from watching the highlights alone, you'll notice the NHL is going to be blessed with some outstanding talent in seasons to come.

There is only one thing left on team USA's to do list—fans are counting on you Bobby Ryan!


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