Much is expected of Canada going into the team’s first game tomorrow evening at the Olympics in Sochi. With a lineup that replicates the NHL equivalent of a Hollywood flight manifest on its way to Sundance, many are already pegging the gold medal game for the team of the red maple leaf.
While calling an ending before the start is perhaps too optimistic as this point, if Canada plays anywhere near the level they have been statistically set up to play, chances are very good that the dream of winning in Sochi lies in their futures.
Two key components in those statistics are the play of Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry and center Ryan Getzlaf, providing top-line offense to Team Canada at third- or fourth-line depth. The majority of Canada’s lines are composed of NHL teammates; Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby will play on the first line, as well as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks, who look to play on the third line.
But Perry and Getzlaf have the unique perspective of being paired at the 2005 Ducks training camp, and remaining together since then puts them at an advantage level that all the practice in the world can never replicate — a rarity in this salary cap era of hockey.
On any given night at the Honda Center, Ducks fans are in for the on-ice spectacular that has become Getzlaf and Perry. When one passes the puck, the other catches it and slaps it to the back of the net (most times without ever making eye contact). The beauty of their play is that they always know the other’s position on the ice. When one is hit, the other is there to fight the battle.
On the road, they sit together on buses and eat next to each other at mealtime. Many fans have even spotted Perry and Getzlaf exiting morning practices in matching hoodies. The two are almost evenly paired in goals scored as well; Getzlaf has 29, while Perry has him edged out with 30 at the moment. Twin power at it’s finest — on and off the ice.
And as a coach with only three days to put together a team and throw them out onto the world’s biggest and brightest stage, Canada’s leader Mike Babcock can use what he has in Getzlaf and Perry to put together the better team on the ice each night. This kind of skill at the tail end of line rotations gives their opponent no time to breathe once the expected challenge of defending Crosby or Toews is done.
These two might be switching between the bottom lines, but bottom is not bad in Sochi — it’s depth. Getzlaf and Perry are the unique power no other team has. The dynamic duo will be needed to bring gold home to Canada once more.