Line on fire

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Granted, it's not like they'll win too many WHL games by touchdowns. Still, there can be some comfort for the Calgary Hitmen that their twin stars seem to have found their scoring touch in North Dakota.

Not that Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Ladd have been mired in catastrophic slumps this WHL campaign but there is something lacking from their game so far this season.

Namely, top-level point production.

Looks like a trip south of the border and a Maple Leaf on the chest has helped the linemates find a golden touch.

Heading into this afternoon's meeting with Finland -- Canada's final round-robin contest of the tourney -- Getzlaf is coming off a pair of games in which he's netted a total of two goals and three assists.

Ladd has hit the scoresheet in all three games so far, scoring a goal in each of the last two contests, including the game winner against Germany. He also netted a helper in the opener.

"We got it (back) a little bit before we came," said Getzlaf, "but obviously this has helped. It's another step along the way. This is good for us because we already know each other going into the tournament."

Have a pretty impressive history, too. At least last season in Calgary.

Unfortunately for the underachieving Hitmen, it's been not quite up to standards expected this year.

When Getzlaf, the captain, departed for this tourney, he had 19 goals and 16 helpers to his name in 33 games. Those aren't disastrous totals but when you consider he's well outside the top dozen for points and far behind his pace from a year ago (27 goals and 47 assists in 49 games) you can see the cause for alarm.

Ladd's 11 goals and 13 assists in 33 games aren't at the pace he set last season where he registered 30 goals and 45 assists.

"It's weird sometimes how scoring goes," Ladd said. "Sometimes you can't get anything to go right and other times, nothing will go wrong.

"When you're counted on heavily to score goals, you put pressure on yourself to start scoring more and, maybe sometimes, that's the wrong thing to do. The best thing to do is sit back and wait for it to happen."

Which he has been lately while playing on a line with Jeff Carter in the middle.

"This year's kind of had its ups and downs, so far, but I feel pretty healthy right now, and things are going well," Getzlaf said. "When things are clicking, they're clicking. It's pretty easy when you're playing with guys like this."

Maybe so but when they go back to the 'Dub, they'll again be counted on for top-end point production, especially if the Hitmen are to have any form of a playoff run.

"This can do nothing but help," Getzlaf said. "It's got to bring your play up, same as anytime you go up in any level. It elevates your level. And when you go back home you've got to try and work to keep it at that level."


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