Will the Anaheim Ducks Split Up Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry?


Something of note happened in the game Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Halfway through the game, Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau changed up his lines. That part is not uncommon: Boudreau routinely shuffles his lines between games and during games. What was uncommon was that he chose to split up the famed duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Perry was put on a line with Rickard Rakell and Andrew Cogliano, while Getzlaf ended up with Devante Smith-Pelly and Jakob Silfverberg.

Boudreau often chooses to switch up the lines when certain combinations are struggling to score, but Getzlaf and Perry are a “sacred” pair that stay together almost universally. Even when one or both are struggling, the two are rarely separated from one another. This was not the first time that Boudreau has tried this move, but usually, the move has backfired on him. This time, however, it was neither a complete failure nor a great success. However, the Ducks ended up winning the game 2-1.

One could argue that this move was more about getting offense from the other three lines than anything specifically about the play of Getzlaf and Perry. Then again, the Ducks were failing to get offense from anybody up to that point (the Ducks were outshot in the first period by the Hurricanes 14-5).

In the grand scheme of things, this move most likely will not matter much. Getzlaf and Perry work best together: even the most casual NHL fans know this, and they will probably be reunited on Sunday against the Washington Capitals. However, this is the first time that splitting Getzlaf and Perry up is a viable option for the Ducks. For the first time arguably ever, Boudreau could legitimately split up “The Twins” without worrying too much about the ramifications of the move.

Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim Ducks /

Anaheim Ducks

Rakell is taking after Getzlaf in a lot of different ways, especially in terms of puck-possession and distribution. Because of that, it is no surprise that he and Perry have had some chemistry when playing with one another. Getzlaf is one of the league’s elite centermen, and he makes the wingers Boudreau puts beside him look that much better. Rakell is not quite at the “elite” status, but he has become one of the Ducks’ most consistent performers, and he is making his presence felt in the lineup, both individually and in terms of improving the play of his linemates.

It is not just Rakell, however. The Ducks have another center option for Perry in Ryan Kesler, who was acquired in the offseason in a blockbuster deal. The addition of Kesler has been massive for the Ducks, especially secondary wingers. Matt Beleskey, whose previous career-high in goals was 11, has 21 goals this season. Kyle Palmieri, who has missed parts of the season with ankle and shoulder injuries, has 11 goals. Kesler is the best second-line centerman the Ducks have had in years, and he is helping his wingers produce, just as Getzlaf has always done.

Both Getzlaf and Perry have spent time out of the lineup this season because of illness and injury. During that time, Boudreau has had to adjust his lineups to compensate for losing his top players. When Getzlaf missed time on this most recent road-trip, it was Rakell that moved up on the top-line with Perry. When Perry missed time with the mumps or his knee injury, Getzlaf took his share of different linemates.

Last year during the playoffs, the Ducks had to go a game without Getzlaf when he suffered what was later to be revealed as a shoulder injury. The Ducks blew a 2-0 first-period lead and lost the game 4-2. Perry was a -1 with no points, and the team was mostly ineffective without Getzlaf in the lineup, as Nick Bonino failed to have much of an impact centering the top-line.

Getzlaf and Perry undeniably work best when they are on a line together, but it is important to know what options are available should an injury occur. This is especially significant in the playoffs, where depth players can swing the outcomes of entire series: after all, stars win games, role players win series. This move in Carolina is small in the overall scheme of things, but it is an important detail to think about and consider moving forward.

Next: The Anaheim Ducks' 2015 Trade Deadline Targets