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Photo Credit: NewfieMikey

GDB +11.0: How to Defend Getzlaf?

Ryan Getzlaf has four goals and eight points so far in this series. He has 12 shots on goal, is averaging 23:55 TOI/game, is 57.6% on faceoffs (38-28), has 13 hits and has delivered numerous hacks, whacks and slashes. He’s been the best player in the series, and the Oilers will be looking for a way to contain him.

The challenge is there doesn’t seem to be an obvious answer to slowing him down.

He has seven EV points in the series and one on the powerplay. Here is a quick recap of Getzlaf’s four games at even strength.

Corsi for/against, Fenwick for/against, shots for/against, goals for/against.

Getzlaf        CF-CA         FF-FA      SF-SA      GF-GA
Game 1         17-14           16-9          10-7            1-1
Game 2        33-10          26-9          15-3            0-0
Game 3         9-23           8-18          5-14            2-1
Game 4        22-19          17-12        13-7             4-0

This is a very small sample size, but in the playoffs the head-to-head games are all you can go off of. The column that matters most to me is GF/GA and he is killing the Oilers 7-2. He has dominated every other category except in game three. So what was different in game three compared to games one, two and four?

His two goals came in the first 12 minutes and the Ducks led 3-0. Then the Oilers changed lines, and in that extremely small sample size, the line of Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Patrick Maroon had a significant possession advantage over Getzlaf’s line. The Oilers pressed, and while the Oilers managed to negate him the rest of the way, Jakob Silfverberg crushed them.

RNH played 7:48 against Getzlaf at EV and dominated him in possession. It was 13-3 in SF/SA, 15-3 in FF/FA and 18-4 in CF-CA.
Maroon played 6:07 against him and had 8-2 SF/SA, 10-2 in FF/FA and 12-3 in CF/CA.
Draisaitl played 5:46 against #15 and had 8-1 SF/SA, 10-2 in FF/FA and 14-2 in CF/CA.

I repeat, this is an extremely small sample size, but they are the only trio to have any meaningful success against Getzlaf.

Todd McLellan was asked if he would consider moving his lines to try and limit Getzlaf’s production and he gave a one word response: “Possibly.”

I don’t expect McLellan to give away his strategy prior to the game, but I’m curious to see who he deploys against Getzlaf tonight. He’s at a disadvantage because he doesn’t have last change, and it is rare the Oilers can win a faceoff and maintain possession.

Of course the D pair who plays against him is also important.

Here is a look at how the Oilers top-two pairs have done in each game versus Getzlaf:

Game 1:

Vs. #15       TOI     CF-CA      FF-FA      SF-SA      GF-GA
Larsson       6:19     6-6           4-5           4-2          1-0
Klefbom     5:39     6-7           4-6            4-3          1-0
Russell       4:51      2-8           2-8           1-6           0-1
Sekera       4:19       2-7            2-7           1-5           0-1

***This game the three pairs were fairly even. Nurse and Benning played 5:09 and 4:25 respectively against Getzlaf and each were 6-3 on CF/GA and 2-2 at both FF/FA and SF/SA.

Game 2:

Vs. #15       TOI     CF-CA      FF-FA      SF-SA      GF-GA
Klefbom     9:40     3-16           2-14          2-5            0-0
Larsson      9:09     5-15            3-14         3-5             0-0
Sekera        7:16      3-9             2-7            0-6            0-0
Russell       6:43     5-8              3-7            1-6            0-0

**Oilers won this game 2-1.**

Game 3:

Vs. #15       TOI     CF-CA      FF-FA      SF-SA      GF-GA
Russell       7:55     13-7            9-7            8-4             1-1
Sekera        7:16     12-7            8-7            7-4             1-1
Larsson     5:46      9-1             8-0            6-0            0-0
Klefbom    5:19      8-1             7-0            5-0             0-0

**Oilers lost this game 6-3.**

Game 4:

Vs. #15       TOI     CF-CA      FF-FA      SF-SA      GF-GA
Larsson       9:13      8-17          5-15         3-12          0-4
Klefbom     8:42      6-13          4-11         3-9            0-3
Russell       7:55       4-8            1-4          1-3            0-0
Sekera        7:28       4-9           1-5           1-3            0-0

The numbers aren’t flattering to either D pair, excluding game three, and that’s when the RNH/Draisaitl/Maroon combination faced Getzlaf once the lines were juggled.

Again, I recognize these are small sample sizes, but to me it is clear Larsson and Klefbom need to up their game against Getzlaf. Larsson was brought in to be a shut down defender. It is an extremely difficult job, but that’s his role and he wants the challenge of facing Getzlaf. He and Klefbom need to elevate their play against him.

LINEUP…

Oilers

Maroon – McDavid – Draisaitl
Lucic – Nugent-Hopkins – Slepyshev
Caggiula – Letestu – Kassian
Pouliot – Desharnais – Eberle

Klefbom – Larsson
Sekera – Russell
Nurse – Benning

Talbot

I suspect we will see some juggling of the lines during the game. Look for Connor McDavid to play a lot. In game five versus the Sharks in round one, which had 17 minutes of OT,  he played over 30 minutes. I think McLellan will go to his Hart Trophy finalist a lot tonight. I don’t know for certain if Slepyshev will start on the 2nd line, but I’d start him there. Eberle should have a mismatch against the bottom six. The Ducks bottom six hasn’t produced much, so maybe look for an advantage there, plus, in my eyes, Eberle’s best effort of the series came after he was demoted to the fourth line.

Ducks

Rakell – Getzlaf – Perry
Cogliano – Kesler – Silfverberg
Ritchie – Thompson – Kerdiles??
Wagner – Vermette – Shaw

Fowler – Montour
Lidholm – Manson
Theodore – Vatanen

Gibson

Patrick Eaves didn’t skate this morning and will not play. Ondrej Kase did not return after Lucic cross-checked him in the ribs and will not play either. They did recall Nic Kerdiles, and he could slot in on the third line.

QUICK HITS

  • Lucic said this when asked if playing physical against Getzlaf was the way to go. “He’s a world-class player and you have to do whatever to make him uncomfortable. It’s tough when a guy like that is feeling it. There’s also a reason why he’s on every Olympic and World Cup team and All-star team. The whole league knows how great a player he is. You just have to find a way to frustrate him. Obviously right now, not much is frustrating him, though.” The last statement is the key, because nothing is bothering Getzlaf right now. The Oilers need to find ways to not let him have the puck, and force him to play defensively like they did in the first period of game four. The Oilers need to play fast, smart and with intensity. Frustrating him would be great, but I suspect the best way to do it is to lessen his touches. Of course if you can get him into a pushing match or a possible coincidental penalty situation, you have to try.
  • Many have discussed the Oilers record on Sundays, but what about their Friday record? The bad news is they weren’t good in the regular season. They were 2-3-4 and only scored one goal in nine games. The good news for Oilers fans is they are 2-0 in the playoffs. They defeated the Sharks 2-0 at home in game two and defeated the Ducks 2-1 in game two.
  • The road team has had 17 PPs in the series and the home team has had 13. The Oilers have had nine PPs on the road and six at home, while the Ducks have had seven at home and eight on the road. Each team has had 15 powerplays thus far.
  • Classic line from Randy Carlyle today in his morning scrum, when he was asked how he would shut down Getzlaf, if he were the Oilers: “You really think I’m going to answer that? I’ve said this before, but never to the media: beat it.”

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: @TomKostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: I see this going seven. A home team finally wins and Ducks skate away with a 3-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Getzlaf picks up his ninth point of the series and Draisaitl scores another goal in Anaheim. He has five goals in five games at the Honda Centre this season.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: ~Oilersnation is very impressed with the officiating tonight. They compliment the officials on a job well done. ~

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