The already injury-riddled Anaheim Ducks have yet another health concern and possibly the most worrisome to date. The latest casualty was none other than captain Ryan Getzlaf, who took a shot to the face from his long-time partner in crime, Corey Perry, in the opening seconds of tonight’s game versus the Carolina Hurricanes. Getzlaf was evaluated for an “upper body injury” before eventually being declared out for the game by the team.
Initially, the injury seemed far from serious (video). Getzlaf seemed only stunned by the shot, which lost much of its momentum after a deflection by the ’Canes Sebastian Aho. There was no blood nor any exaggerated reaction and Getzlaf skated off the ice without issue. However, when he did not return, things became somewhat more daunting for the Ducks. Getzlaf, without a doubt, is the leader of the Anaheim forward corps and plays an invaluable role for the team. Fortunately, the injury still does not have the appearance of anything major and Getzlaf’s absence could be purely precautionary. At worst, a facial injury – even a bone break – tends to be a short-term loss. The Minnesota Wild’s Marcus Foligno for example missed only a week with a facial fracture suffered in a fight earlier this season.
Yet, in the context of Anaheim’s mounting losses, any extended absence for Getzlaf could be problematic. Ryan Miller finally made his ducks debut tonight and Hampus Lindholm and Ondrej Kase re-joined the team this week as well, but that still leaves an injured reserve that features Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves, Cam Fowler, and Kevin Bieksa and an active Sami Vatanen who still seems unprepared to resume play. The Ducks already have Korbinian Holzer and Jaycob Megna playing key roles on the blue line; the team can’t afford the same lack of depth up front, particularly at center, where a long stretch with 35-year-old Antoine Vermette as the top option down the middle could spell disaster for the team. The Ducks need to get healthy, and suddenly that starts with avoiding any sidelining of Getzlaf (if possible).